SoulStice is one of the more talented hip hop artists native to Chicago. His knowledge of both the books and the street is evident in his meaningful lyrics, but in case you had any doubts, he also earned both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from the University of Illinois in Electrical and Computer Engineering. By utilizing his skills behind the microphone and the mixing board, SoulStice has written and recorded his own music, driven by his passion for hip hop.
After generating a significant following in Chicago and the Midwest, SoulStice moved to the Washington, D.C. area where he has given many performances and made several appearances on mix-tapes. He has since earned a large following on the East Coast, and has had the opportunity to work with Oddisee (a producer who has worked with several hip hop artists including Talib Kweli and Jazzy Jeff) and Bring It Back, a production team out of Virginia. SoulStice has also given several performances in the UK, where he has a respectable fan base, and has shared the stage with several prominent artists, including Wu-Tang Clan and John Legend. His sound has frequently been described as a blend of Chicago soul and East Coast boom-bap.
SoulStice hit the top of both college radio and club charts in 2003 with his first single, “the Melody,” from his debut album, North by Northwest: Solid Ground, which he publicized, marketed and distributed all on his own. He followed up this banger with the double-single, “Always / The Quickening,” which topped both college radio and club charts in 2005. Although SoulStice has spent some time away from the Windy City, there is no doubt of his Chicago roots in his latest album, Dead Letter Perfect, which was released in 2007.
Dead Letter Perfect kicks off with an old-school vibe on “Southside Ride,” clearly representing SoulStice’s Chi-town origins in the track’s title. If his cunning wordplay and rhymes aren’t impressive enough, the excellent production and soulful sounds certainly seal the deal. As the name implies, the song is smooth and excellent for chilling or taking a drive. When track two arrives SoulStice rhymes, “Hey! You can take it high as you wanna go, I can see us rise with the vibe and it’s wonderful,” in the appropriately named “High as You Wanna.” The faster tempo and brilliant imagery of this track makes you feel like you are right there, face-to-face with SoulStice, listening to his story, proving the claim of his rhyme to be true – it is wonderful.
SoulStice then progressively slows it down a little bit with the tracks “Be Perfect” and “Book Of Days,” in which his lyrics draw a picture of his experiences in your mind. Accordingly, in “Be Perfect” SoulStice rhymes, “I gotta vendetta, and a story to tell; it’s a little bit of heaven if you’re going through hell,” and “I am just getting started, got no time for spittin’ garbage,” in “Book Of Days.” The dark beat and sound of the fifth track perfectly matches the insightful lyrics of “World’s On Fire,” which features Haysoos.
In the next two tracks, “Not Perfect” and “Be Strong,” SoulStice goes back to rhyming about life and hardships, with lyrics that should really hit home with most listeners. In “Dreamer,” the eighth track, he rhymes, “They say that I’m a dreamer, I gotta rhyming fever; I keep speaking through the speaker so these lines will reach-ya.” SoulStice continues to lay it out as he sees it in “Like This, The Time and Get It Right,” with each line leaving you gripped to his story. “Still Love,” the twelfth track, includes several cleverly worded rhymes about life in Chicago such as: “I’m from the Chi’ where the basements at, where it’s so hot and so cold the pavement cracks.” The next track, “No Chance,” at first seems to be a typical boasting track declaring SoulStice’s elite status and permanent residence in the hip hop world, but a close listen to the lyrics reveals a motivational message as well: “It’s not about where you start, it’s what you choose to become.”
The album concludes with an upbeat finale on the tracks “Recognize” and “The Quickening.” SoulStice declares this is the perfect album, but that is up to the world of hip hop listeners to decide. There is no doubt, however, that this album is well written, recorded and produced and that SoulStice is a very talented lyricist.
Listening to Dead Letter Perfect leaves you with a lot to think about. The complex rhymes and wordplay are filled with imagery and tell the listener a story through SoulStice’s socially aware, world-conscious lyrics. His choruses stick in your head without being too catchy, and you’ll want to listen to these tracks over and over again to capture all the complexities in the verses. If you like socially conscientious hip hop and creative word-play, you will really enjoy this album, but if you’re looking for a generic club-banger type production, this may not be for you. Dead Letter Perfect is an album for thinkers, but if you’re in the mood for dancing, throw on some top 40.
1. Southside Ride (produced by Oddisee)
2. High As You Wanna (produced by Analogic)
3. Be Perfect (produced by K-Salaam & Beatnick)
4. Book of Days (produced by Oddisee)
5. World’s On Fire featuring Haysoos (produced by Oddisee)
6. Not Perfect featuring Olivier Daysoul (produced by M-phazes)
7. Be Strong (produced by SBe Audiologist)
8. Dreamer (produced by SBe Audiologist)
9. Like This (produced by Oddisee)
10. The Time featuring Stef (produced by SBe Audiologist)
11. Get It Right featuring Oddisee and Olivier Daysoul (produced by Oddisee)
12. Still Love (produced by M-phazes)
13. No Chance featuring Wordsworth (produced by Analogic)
14. Recognize (produced by Bring it Back)
15. The Quickening” (produced by Oddisee)
Posted by David Goldberg