September 28, 2010 - Doomtree
Legend Recognize Legendis the solo debut from Lazerbeak, a producer from the Minneapolis’ Doomtree collective—a crew most known for its breakout star, P.O.S., whose critically acclaimed 2009 disc, Never Better, featured beats from ’Beak. Born Aaron Mader, he’s also known outside the hip-hop world as the guitarist for recently defunct indie-rock band the Plastic Constellations. While fans might’ve expected his debut to be an instrumental rap record, they’re in for a surprise. Legend borrows elements from both of Mader’s musical personas, but ends up instead in pop territory.
The album kicks off with the carefree “Dream Team,” where Mader’s laid back delivery floats over an infectious synth line. His singing isn’t mind-blowing, but it usually works well with the musical landscape he’s creating behind it. There’s a few times when his voice doesn’t do the song justice, most notably on the awkward “Cannon Falls.” On “Wild Life,” he experiments with harmonies, blending his voice with others into a giant frenzy that coats a driving, tribal rhythm. The tune is really just an extended interlude, but it’s actually quite fun. Legend’s strongest track is the moody “Land’s End,” where Mader’s voice gets raspy over some super-intricate drums and a bouncy piano line. If he gets tired of being behind the scenes in underground rap, Legend is a great first step towards a career as an indie-pop star.