Raz Simone’s newest album, Cognitive Dissonance, finds its creator struggling to navigate the ever-changing world of rap music. Simone can’t decide if he wants to come off as a gangster or an unfortunate product of an unfortunate situation.
While this lends an interesting duality to the album, it is sometimes hard to follow and Simone’s flip-flopping between social issues and his gangster life is always frustrating.
Simone’s self-doubt and conflict can be seen early on in the album. “They’ll Speak,” the album’s first and best track, elaborates on Simone’s reflections on his family, situation and religion over a sample of Hans Zimmer’s “Inception” soundtrack.
However, the second track, “8 Rangs,” is about what a gangster he is and how much respect he gets. This continues until the end of the album, which finishes with “Still Mobbin,” a weak lament of how Simone has to live his life for his loved ones.
Simone also has a lot of trouble slowing his songs down and trying to make them heavier than they ought to be. This tendency is especially prevalent on the last third of the album, which is made up of a collection of slow, boring odes to Simone’s problems.
However, there are positives to be found here as well. Right from “They’ll Speak” and the beginning of the album, Simone shows that he has the technical prowess necessary to be an excellent rapper. In other words, the man has great flow.
Simone is also very adept at taking spoken word excerpts and sound effects and inserting them into his music. The best example of this is the third track, “Natural Resources,” where the whole first verse is just one such excerpt. And while some of his beats may leave something to be desired, when he uses them minimally, they blend nicely with his style and raps.
If Simone figures his style out and puts it all together, he could be a force to be reckoned with in the future.