Orphan’s Gift And Curse Brings Only Good Luck

There must be something in the water at MakeWay Studios because they always seem to churn out some quality music that never fails to leave lasting impressions. Utilizing heavy bass with flirtatiously catchy beats, accentuated by a lethal mix of hard-hitting rap verses and smooth crooning vocals, MakeWay is certainly carving an identity for itself that is both recognizable and incredibly stylish.

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In many ways, Orphan’s 2014 mix tape The Gift And The Curse is just another well-groomed product of the Montreal-based studio, while at the same time it stands high above its colleagues. On one hand, it has MakeWay’s trademark bass and pomp, driving some cool, contagious beats all throughout the record, track-to-track. On the other hand, Orphan’s own unique flair channels something surprisingly introspective, far from being simply ‘mellow,’ but never too flamboyant or bombastic. It rides right on that fine line separating swag and smoothness, reminiscent of some fantastic lyricism and auras ranging as far as Kanye West’s classic profundity to the Kendrick Lamar sway of present-day. Indeed, The Gift And The Curse is some fine, honest, and admirably genuine music that fans of good music will swallow sublimely with pleasure.

The mix begins cinematically in quiet fashion with the “Intro” on track one, featuring the slick verses of Orphan over a humming bass and melancholic electric guitar, allowing the listener to ease smoothly into the mix. This allows for the modest yet ceremonious drop of “TGATC” on track two, a catchy head-bobber featuring a slick and contagious chorus of Orphan bellowing the lyrics of “the gift; the curse,” ending perfectly just before it feels too redundant and allowing the mix to begin rolling at a slow yet heavy momentum.

“Doing It Too” is another smooth drop that features more of that MakeWay bass with some snare and hi-hat drum beats rolling underneath as Orphan dishes out some stylish verses, each lyric hitting in just the right corners as this silky track rolls seductively through the listener’s ears. With a slightly jazzy feel, “Doing It Too” is a surefire fan favourite with its euphoric, feel-good sound.

“Except You” feels a little darker, complemented by a snide drum beat and the low growling rap vocals of Orphan, complemented by some nice vocal melodies and nuances that certainly put this heavier track over the top. Orphan gets personal and intrusive, spitting the hooky lyrics of “except you” with a subtle ferocity. The heaviness only continues with “Vegas,” continuing to showcase the stellar one-two punch of MakeWay’s bombastic production and Orphan’s slicing verses. “Diesel” on track seven only continues this fiery combination even further, which feature some of the best vocal work on the entire album.

After going through “I Got This” on track eight, one of the mix’s more smoother and spacey offerings, the mix then drops into a Jay-Z stylized “Thoughts Of The Pacific,” a more dramatic-sounding track that signifies the mix’s slow spiral down into more contemplative themes. These two aren’t some of the more recognizable tracks of the mix, but they are still noteworthy looks.

“Reload” is one of Orphan’s more pomp tracks, featuring more well-placed percussive verses, a head-bobbing beat, and one of the mix’s more inspiring choruses. “Haters talkin but they not talkin to me though / I goes hard then I reload,” he croons in triumphant fashion; indeed, “Reload” is one of the more celebratory tracks on the mix and is sure to strike the right chords with his audience. The celebratory mood continues only in “Kodak,” also being one of the mix’s more real tracks with some fantastic lyrics and a great, heart-warming feel. “I swear this life is more a bitch the more it pans out” Orphan raps; certain to be another fan favourite, “Kodak” is perhaps the most inspirational on the record, featuring some smooth saxophone sequences and a velvety chorus.

The production on this record is fantastic, each beat complementing Orphan’s wonderful vocal work that never feels overly embellished or underwhelming. The nuances in his verses, his rhythmic breaks, and the way he understands where to pause and breathe allows each lyric to rise over the top and truly make each note and beat on this mix spectacular; truly, some great attention to detail is demonstrated here in his vocal work. Some offerings do feel somewhat safe, and the shinier tracks such as “Kodak” don’t feel as if they shine as much as they could, but that doesn’t stop Orphan from dishing out some fine rapping and magnificent lyricism in every track. Beneath this work, there certainly seems to be a quiet rumbling of something promising, something that feels real and genuine. The Gift And The Curse is truly a great mix that shows a lot of potential for something honest and profound.

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