Cleveland rapper Tae Miles digs deep into his African roots and resurfaces with The Adventures of the Wahoo Village Warrior. Miles authors an exclusive sound with the use of tribal beats and village instruments in his second full-length project. Fierce and brave, TAWVW engrosses listeners with captivating sounds and fresh lyricism.
Wild chants, exotic percussion and smooth synthesizers compliment Miles’ poetic diction in two-part track “INTERLOOD”. Beginning as an effervescent, lively jam that segues into a soft, deep voiced ballad, “INTERLOOD” serves as a testimony to Tae Miles’ ability to diversify his musical tone. In “HuntingSeason”, Miles takes on an African alter ego, rapping “running through the forest city with a couple warriors” and describing a scene of war painted warriors wielding tomahawks, bows and arrows with an accent that would be more typical of a Ghanian rapper as opposed to a kid from Midwest America. The African influence that consumes TAWVW makes the album incomparable. “Rain Dance” features vocals from Cameroon-born Cleveland singer Lorine Chia. An African Amy Winehouse, Chia soulfully sings about learning to find the good in less than ideal conditions. Wild and daunting, “Mike Lowrey” enthrals listeners with cool lyrics dancing over a jungle beat of chanting sirens and snaking synth. A frenzied African Djembe drum solo kicks off the symphonic “Forfeit”, a psuedo-love song in which Miles “forfeits” the love game upon realizing love rarely comes to those that are searching for it. Even with its lyrically awkward moments, it still houses one of the most precious lines of the album: “Now how did God create something so beautiful? I’m sorry Miss, I just expected you to know”. But alas, not all the tracks with awkward phrases have a key redeeming line. “Snakes&Trolls” particularly is much too busy for my liking, crammed with spastic noises and unappealing use of autotune.
TAWVW gets real with “SAID+DONE”, a song addressing the recent Black Lives Matter movement brewing in the Black communities as Miles expresses his disdain for the numerous incidents of police brutality towards black males. The song leaves listeners with a powerful take home message: the only way to keep Black America from fighting for justice is to kill the entire Black population. It takes a more disheartening turn with a recording of a newscaster reporting video footage of the fatal shooting of 12 year old Cleveland resident Tamir Rice. Miles takes it even further by rapping the names of children that could have faced the same disturbing fate as Rice. This grim track is followed by the sugary sweet “LaLaLand” featuring Alex Kent. Miles’ sing-songy lines and Kent’s warm vocals provide a feeling lighter than many of the songs on TAWVW‘s tracklist that detail Miles’ harsh realities.
The African djembe, talking drum, and congas are just a few of the village instruments that make a prominent appearance on TAWVW. Tae Miles somehow manages to capture an African sound more authentic than some of the continent’s popular rappers. In this sampling-savvy era, it’s difficult to come across genuine originality and The Adventures of the Wahoo Village Warriors is a worthy challenger of the status quo. Though strange at times, Tae Miles’ adventures are far from boring.