Phoelix released his first EP GSPL on July 16. GSPL is a 7 track, 18 minute project mixed and mastered by Don Outten.
Who is Phoelix?
Phoelix is best known for his contributions behind the producer’s table for some of hip hop’s fastest rising names. He produced 8 out of 10 tracks in Noname’s Telefone and has also worked with Smino and SABA. The Illinois producer has released other songs, primarily instrumentals, going as far back as early 2015 on his SoundCloud page.
Phoelix’s interest in music started at a young age, being involved in his local church’s choir. He grew up listening to jazz and funk, but lists his mom as a big influence on the musical diversity he tries to bring to his discography. Phoelix’s exposure to rap and hip, limited as a youngster because of his parents’ musical taste, grew once he was old enough to purchase his own CDs.
Scrolling down his SoundCloud profile is like going through a musical alamanac. R&B, soul, jazz funk, house, and even simply “love” are some of the genres Phoelix corrals his songs into. GSPL, however, doesn’t have a listed genre. It simply reads “Fox Valley,” the relatively small area about 2 hours away from Chicago where he grew up.
Cream of the crop
Although GSPL only consists of seven songs, there are a couple of standout tracks.
“Heartless Sonata” samples Kanye West‘s “Heartless” from 808s & Heartbreak. The track falls in line with the other songs Phoelix has previously released in that it is completely instrumental besides Kanye’s distorted voice. The song could be foreshadowing Phoelix’s career path, going from producer to rapper like West first did before becoming a global superstar.
On the flipside, “Half & Half” offers a catchy beat with gospel vocals in the background. Phoelix shows off great flow, slightly reminiscent of Chance The Rapper (another notable Chicagoan influence) or Anderson .Paak. “Half & Half” feels like a finished project, unlike other songs in GSPL which seem like rough drafts.
Although Phoelix shows flashes of brilliance in GSPL, some tracks are lackluster. “Red Beans & Rice,” the EP’s first song, is musically incohesive ranging from aggressive verses to slower paced ones without much of a transition.
Another issue in GSPL is the overflow of ideas in the beats. For instance, in “Temptation,” futuristic sounds are trying to simultaneously trying to blend in with a simple beat and clapping sounds. The end result is cluttered, busy, and detracts from the vocals. The beat in “Bob Davis” is well-done enough to not feel amateurish, but is simple enough to not take away from the lyrics.
The versatile artist has immaculate production, generally good timing and flow, and some catchy lyrics. The strengths overshadow the weaknesses, but the low points are noticeable as is to be expected with an artist’s first major release. The next steps for Phoelix are to develop an overarching theme, make some of his beats more straightforward, and find which version of himself he wants to project as an artist.
Overall, GSPL is a solid platform for Phoelix to build on.
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ / 5