Album

What Went Right With… Almost Home by AKTHESAVIOR?

A review of the Almost Home project by AKTHESAVIOR

After a classic debut mixtape and a handful of memorable albums with The Underachievers, plus a couple of forgettable solo mixtapes, AK The Savior aka AKTHESAVIOR today brings us his latest release Almost Home, an oddly subdued solo LP that doesn’t quite hit the spot. In my opinion, all of AK’s solo offerings have been disappointing; they’ve contained a few decent tracks but the majority of it has felt like discarded material. Unfortunately, Almost Home is another one of AKTHESAVIOR’s unremarkable releases. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a terrible LP, not by a long shot, but it feels to me like something’s missing; some kind of cohesion or concept to hold the whole project together. Almost Home won’t be spoken about in the same breath as Indigoism or even Cellar Door and Evermore.

The album begins with “In My Dreams”, a short, smooth, relaxed opener, with a deeper-voiced AK. This is followed by “Be Back Soon” featuring Kenneth Cash who gives the joint a Pop-striving, radio-friendly feel. There’s guitar strums and a dull hook (“I’ve been knockin’ the door, Keys on the floor, I’ve been out in a war”) and after the unexceptional first track, this follow-up isn’t that much better…

We then have “Fuck -12” featuring Mello, another lame-hook-containing, xylophone-tickling, slow-tempo, and generally banal song. Thankfully this is followed by “R.I.P SMOKE” which may be missing a period from the initialism but it’s the best track so far. Powers Pleasant’s juxtaposition of strings and rumbling bass is fantastic. The only problem I have is that on the surface, it purports to be dedicated to deceased drill rapper Pop Smoke but the lyrics are unfocussed…

“Vitamin C” featuring Billy Baddass, is a stronger, heavy-bass, rapid-drum-beat-filled song that instantly became one of my favourites upon my first listen. The chorus (“shit ’bout to blow, I feel like Bin Laden”) feels like classic UA material. Unfortunately, this is followed by “Giani” featuring Zombie Juice, a short but inferior song.

“Ups & Downs” is a decent, gold-school sounding, mellow joint that would have worked better back in the summer or in the ’90s; hearing this kind of production in the middle of winter in 2020 feels wrong somehow. Despite featuring Chuck Strangers, Erick The Architect & Issa Gold, the various Beast Coast MC’s individual verses aren’t something to write home about and neither is the simplistic and trite hook (“I went from nickels to bands, from dollars to stacks”)

“Master Roshi” is a listenable track that may reference the Dragon Ball Z character but the sometimes hackneyed lyrics don’t make use of the title…

“Stardumb” featuring Woodie Smalls contains the line “half of their lyrics don’t hit the soul” which seems ironic during such a mediocre release, especially when you consider the next track “Flava” featuring Krystall Poppin which is generic and boring. “The One” on the other hand, is a highly enjoyable, head-nodding track but it’s more “Cousin Stizz” or “Sahtyre” than “Underachievers”. This blip of excitement is then ruined by the derivative “Reincarnated” which could be a song from any banal Trap star.

To compensate for the previous shite track, the album once again gives us a better offering. “Bruce Leeroy” is another decent song that might have worked back in June, July or August but it feels too summery for this time of year. That being said, it’s still one of the better songs on Almost Home. The album then closes with “Dinner For One” which sports some pleasing yet simple production courtesy of Jay Versace.

At just over 37 minutes in length, Almost Home is not too short and not too long. I’m unsure if this is a mixtape or album since I’m listening to it on Spotify, but judging by the short songs and the distinct feel that AKTHESAVIOR isn’t trying too hard, I’d say this would be better described as a mixtape.

The standout tracks are “R.I.P. Smoke”, “Vitamin C”, and “The One”, and had the rest of Almost Home been like these three songs, it would have been an instant classic. Songs like “Ups & Downs”, “Master Roshi”, “Stardumb”, “Bruce Leeroy”, and “Dinner For One” are fine but they’re not exactly re-playable (maybe “Bruce Leeroy”). I know 8 out of 14 isn’t bad but the lasting impression is that there’s too much mediocre shit on here. And sure, even Denzel Curry‘s Ta13oo started off weak but it went hard until the final song. The tracklist here is all over the place – slow, fast, slow, slow – the tracks whether uptempo or sedate are placed in random order. There’s no arc, no structure, and as I’ve already stated; the overall mood seems to be better suited to the sunnier months, on a beach chilling in a hammock holding an umbrella drink.

AK is undoubtedly the best lyricist in The Underachievers but this release isn’t a showcase of his lyrical talents or his songwriting skills. Almost Home is almost the dictionary definition of an average album; half satisfactory, half mundane, not bad but not good either. Die-hard fans of The Underachievers will be satisfied but this is not AK circa 2012-2014.

Almost.

Beats: 5/10

Rhymes: 6/10

Overall: 6/10

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