Braille - Lifefirst: Half The Battle      
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written by Hugo Lunny    
A few days ago, I received this LP from Braille(an artist that I had previously never heard of before). The cover looked interesting, so I threw it in my portable CD player and gave it a listen. Since then, I’ve been listening to it constantly. It’s an album which needs a lot of attention to be fully appreciated. The lyrics need to be concentrated upon, you see, the majority of the LP is material that you can’t really just sit back and relax to, with some of the tracks you can, but they mostly require an attentive ear. The LP actually has quite a lot depth (a lot of Hip Hop LPs, these days don’t), so make sure when you check it out, you let the words properly soak in.

Braille is a pretty young emcee, he’s only 17 and according to what I’ve been told, this isn’t the first Hip Hop release he’s been featured upon. However, with hearing this, I can tell the guy has skills, and hopefully, we’ll be hearing more from Braille in future.

The LP begins with a Guru sample from the track ‘Moment of Truth’ saying "Actions have reactions don’t be quick to judge / You don’t know the hardships people don’t speak of," followed by another sample before kicking into the track, 'Ink Blotch.’ The track is very well created, as carefully written lyrics combine with some nice beats (created by Celph Titled), and a well sung hook to form a dope track.

Throughout ‘Life First,’ you see different sides of Braille. Good examples of this include; ‘Gullet Gambit’ (produced by Celph Titled) has Braille rhyming very enthusiastically in what seems like a very angry mood. The beats feature some very well placed orchestral pieces, which fit in perfectly with Braille’s enthusiastic flow. As with the majority of the LPs tracks, this track features a lot of dope lyrics, with lines like "Knock you out with one punch, call me the one hit wonder" and "Smash your nose so hard you kiss your forehead from the impact" Braille proves, he can be vicious. However, over quite a bit of the LP, Braille comes off as the opposite. ‘Hard To Determine’ has Braille talking about improving things within the world on its hook, and has some pretty well thought out lyrics within the track.

As far as production goes on this LP, I’m very impressed. Celph Titled (of Equilibrium fame) handles a lot of the tracks, as well as Deeskee, DJ Kno, and K IV producing some gems. There are a couple of other producers on the LP, but these guys are the most prominent. They have created a range of feels with their beats, which work well with Braille’s rhymes to form some really dope cuts. Plus, the producers chose some samples to add to the beats which were very well placed. ‘Feedback’ (produced by K IV) which guest stars Ethic, features a sample of Canibus saying "There ain’t a microphone brave enough to give me feedback." This works really well as the tracks hook. Another good example is on ‘Ink Blotch,’ where Celph selected sampling KRS-One saying "Why is that?" Scratched it up a bit, and threw it on as the hook to the track.

‘Life First : Half The Battle’ also features a few guests. Elucid and Daleth drop some pretty dope verses on the track ‘Forgiven Advantage,’ and Storm The Unpredictable trades verses with Braille on the title cut; ‘Life First.’ The title track is pretty impressive, not the LP’s best (and no, I can’t tell you which is the best because I like too many too much), but the concept of it is well expressed.

One thing which a lot of Hip Hop fans will notice about this LP, is that there isn’t any cursing. Now, people may think that it’s the particular copy they’ve bought, but, the fact is, Braille doesn’t need to curse to prove his point, some rappers feel that they do, it’s obvious that he doesn’t. Also, what’s very noticeable is Braille is a pretty religious person, his inside booklet thanks God a lot, and quite a few lines within his songs talk about God. I’m not pointing this out as it being a bad thing, I’m just telling you about the various contents of the LP.

Overall, Braille’s LP is a very impressive one, it’s his solo debut and it’s well worth purchasing. I’m just hoping he can maintain this level of quality with future LPs. This LP is really about lyrics and subject depth. If you’re looking for some bouncy, meaningless bullshit, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for well thought out tracks...purchase this. If you’d like to purchase ‘Life First,’ peep his record labels website;

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