By Ana Gonzalez
I was skeptical of this album for approximately 56 seconds, but then the beat dropped, and I was home for the next half hour. CopperWire’s debut album is a self-proclaimed “Space Opera” that takes its listener on a journey throughout the hip-hop galaxy. It is the amalgamated brainchild of Seattle producer and underground star Gabriel Teodros, Ethiopian-American vocalist Meklit Hadero, and D.C. rapper Burntface. These eclectic performers have combined their talents to create an album of beautifully variegated beats and musical textures that are, at once, serious and carefree, hard and comfortable, otherworldly and familiar.
The perfect example of this comes in the track “Wake Up,” which starts on a light note with the sampling of alarm sounds. Then, this killer groove comes in – heavy bass drum, intricate trumpets, crisp snare hits- and Burntface shows off his rhythmic rhyming abilities. The music in this track ranges from hip-hop beats to jazzy trumpet licks and bass lines to space-like samples of lasers and machinery to orchestral strings sections. Meklit Hadero and Gabriel Teodros then lend their voices to create a sound that reeks of cultured performers and exceptional musicianship.
The only weak points of this album involve Meklit Hadero’s voice. It’s pretty and ethereal but lacks power and control. Her tone is very breathy, which leads to some noticeable intonation problems that take away from many tracks. Unfortunately, CopperWire chooses to end the album with the unmemorable vocal track “Speak” that leaves the whole album feeling a little incomplete. I wish they had ended their intergalactic sojourn just one song sooner because the beat on “Marathon” could make Kanye West take a second listen.
Overall, I love this album. It’s weird in all the right ways and makes its intentions very clear to the listener. Earthbound is conceptual and consistent, two characteristics that are undeniably linked and necessarily so. This album would not have worked if the theme of outer space were not mentioned on every single track. Good work, team, and good luck on your trip back to Earth.