Album Review: Goldini Bagwell – “#SmokersJacket” Series
For all of 2015, Portland, Oregon-based emcee Goldini Bagwell dropped one song per month (for free, at the time), for his #SmokersJacket Series. While I may be late to the game, I did start listening to the project a couple of weeks ago when I heard “Classicool (Pt. II)”. What I’ve always been into about Goldini Bagwell is that his lyrics aren’t only powered by cunning metaphors, strong punchlines, and poetic storytelling, but he’s often brutally honest with who he is, and I love that type of introspective vulnerability in rap. That’s what I can easily connect with. Can’t forget to mention that his flows are always on point, you can feel the passion in his delivery and lyrics, and his beat choices are always dope, and that’s especially true on this project (there wasn’t one that I couldn’t rock with). Now, before I throw you into the wild, to stream the project in full, let me tell you about some of my favorite songs.
The song title “Climb Trees” is a metaphor for escaping the stresses and struggle of life, put to a mellow, stretched-out jazzy beat. It is a deeply personal song where Goldini steps into the dark alleys of his life to tackle what weighs heavy on his shoulders; from feeling like he has to evolve as an emcee to stay relevant, to the fear of not moving forward, using his music as a cathartic release, facing the reality of his art not being appreciated by his own friends, and more.
Gotta love a song that was written with a good type of love in mind, and that’s exactly what “Virtual Reality” represents. With a fast-paced flow and poetic lyrics, Goldini tells a story about falling in love/lust with a special woman and all of the dizzying, intoxicated feelings that come with being on cloud 9. Although the majority of the song is fueled by adoration, there’s bits of it that feels like it resulted in unrequited love–for example, there are moments when he talks about staring at a screen that says game over, recognizing his own faults, and he cites Brand Nubian’s “Love Me or Leave Me Alone” in needing to be accepted for who he is. This is the only song with guest features, which come from Illmaculate and David Lincoln Mann.
“Sore Thumb” sticks out like a… sore thumb, in comparison to the 7 songs that came before it, due to the energetic and gritty delivery. His verses are driven by self-assurance, clever quotables, a “fuck you” type of attitude (“I really hate to be like this, but it’s an I don’t care morning“), a bit of self-deprecating humor, and introspective subject matter, over a dope futuristic boom bap beat.
I love his bouncy, push-and-pull cadences on “Pigs Fly“. Actually, his sharp rapping on this one kind of reminds me of the way Kap Kallous raps sometimes (they’d probably do really well together on a track, too, just throwin’ it out there), and it’s really catchy and fun to listen to. Over a dark, bass-humming, trap-like beat, he unravels with cynical thoughts about the rap game, haters and those who listen with a criticizing ear (“Fact or fiction, who lacks a vision // The folks who diss you are the ones that listen“), the length of one’s career being unknown and largely in the hands of their fans. This song is so cool, smooth, and something that a lot of people in the music industry (or any creative field) can relate to.
Lighting the incense on “Nag Champa“, Goldini spits introspective and real lyrics that finds him: expressing pride in his accomplishments and being a heart-on-his-sleeve type of artist (“I feel my career’s been amazing // I’ve got to build with my fan-base in many places, buddy // Small towns, cities, states, and countries // Don’t get me wrong, these songs don’t got me living comfy // Just got me living different”), lowkey dissing followers who don’t risk going out of their comfort zones (“The box you think out of is coffin-sized”), his love for Portland, and just doing him.
Finally, “Classicool (Pt. II)” found him revisiting a rare song of the same name, which originally came from a 2009 Sandpeople b-side release. He flipped the concept to reflect on this last year, and we hear him talking about the highs and lows of his career, personal issues, meeting women from Tinder, and more.
Like I said earlier, those are just a handful of my favorite songs and, based on my rating, it’s clear that I really liked this project. Production came from Wool See, Cameron and Baloogz of Fish Tank Friends, Lawz Spoken, DJ Epik, Chase Moore, Smoke M2D6, Dalton Jay, and others, with guest features from Illmaculate and David Lincoln Mann. Although a full-length release (with some extras) is expected sometime during this first quarter, feel free to stream all 12 singles that he released.