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by D.T. Swinga
13 March, 2008@4:58 am
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Who says New York lost its crown? For as many jiggy emcees that we saw emerge from the region after Biggie passed, there’s a million roughneck street cats spitting rhymes on the corner, watching each breath come out of their mouths with each accompanying lyric. NYC’s own Torae can be added to that list, whose passion you can hear in the songs he delivers on Daily Conversation.

Daily Conversation is one of those “mixtape-albums” – you know, not big enough for the artist to consider it his debut – but not throwaway material to banish to a cheap CD-R either. Throughout his short career, Torae’s proven to have the gift-of-gab, as well as the gift of rubbing elbows, as he has been courted by numerous crews, from Bad Boy to Dipset to Ruff Ryders to Ca$h Money (heavily detailed on the song “The Journey Pt. 1”). However, these deals must not have interested him much, as he opted to got he indie route, enlisting producers like DJ Premier, 9th Wonder, and Black Milk for Daily Conversation.

The album opens with “Callin’ Me”, where Torae vividly expresses his passion for rocking the mic – expressing it almost like an addiction – over a soulful, 9th Wonder inspired track (which truthfully comes off a little better than 9th’s entry here, “Fantastik 4”). Speaking of which, Hall of Justus’s own Khrysis steps up to produce the banging braggadocious “Somethin’ To See”, as Torae effortlessly shows off his skill. But – like anyone else – Torae sounds his best over Preemo track, as on both “Click” and “Get It Done” (feat. Skyzoo), he churns out two underground classics. Premier must really believe in this kid, especially to lend him with two of his freshest beats in recent memory.

But it’s not all about the beats; Tor’s got some great topical tracks as well. “Think About It” is a take-it-to-the-streets anthem, where the hungry upstart suggests to forget about beef – forget about guns even – let’s fight! “Switch” – on the other hand – allows Tor to flex different styles, switching up his flow every sixteen bars of the Black Milk beat. The thoughtful “Tayler Made” is a dedication to his daughter, over an Eric G produced track, again reminiscent of 9th Wonder’s style (in fact, using the same sample as 9th’s “Carry The Cross” from God’s Stepson).

While Torae has his standout moments on Daily Conversation, at fifteen tracks, there is plenty of room for filler, and it does drag on from time-to-time. If this was his actual “album”, we may have seen a more trim, tightly knit endeavor, but because it’s the “mixtape-album”, it’s to be expected. While Tor is looked at as a “beast” by his peers, his appeal lies in his delivery and swagger, rather than lyrical complexity or profound content. Nevertheless, what we have here is an impressive debut, and a sign of great things to come. – D.T. Swinga

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