By: Ethan Hofer, Staff Writer
Key Tracks: “BLACK PLEASURE”, “SMOKING ON A BRIGHTER DAY”, “THE FINAL SPARK”
MAN PLAYS THE HORN is the seventh project released by Memphis-based experimental rapper Cities Aviv. In a city full of boastful trap rappers, Cities Aviv turns away from the Memphis rap scene and focuses on a more soulful, psychedelic theme, similar to New York City rappers MIKE and Slauson Malone. While the album does come at a lengthy hour and 22 minutes with 26 tracks, there is not a single second that disappointed on this project.
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The album opens with a thought-provoking statement claiming that the reason behind jazz no longer exists within most urban areas is purely economical, where it is no longer practical to buy a saxophone or a piano because of the price, which has led to a cheaper alternative in Black culture: hip-hop. Regardless of the price tag of any music genre, Cities Aviv shows us how amazing Black art is, and furthermore how hip-hop is able to incorporate bits of soul and jazz within its music, which is demonstrated on the very first track of MAN PLAYS THE HORN.
The second track, “BLACK PLEASURE,” titled after his debut album BLACK PLEASURE 2012, shows similar elements at work even after 10 years. Pushing a soulful sound that is reminiscent of a track like “ESCORTS”, which sounded so ahead of its time, that it could have fit into MAN PLAYS THE HORN. However, Cities Aviv has mastered these elements over the past ten years, making a much more blissful and enjoyable sound that even includes better vocals and melodies on each song as well.
Midway through the album, the track “SMOKING ON A BRIGHTER DAY” has a surprising run time of about 12 minutes, but there was not a single second within that track that failed to impress me. The track features sugary guitar chords on an ethereal beat that instantly caught my attention and continued to keep me enthralled throughout the track. “THE FINAL SPARK,” unsurprisingly the final song on the album, gives us yet another incredible instrumental, seemingly more dreary and melodic than the rest, but somehow fits the album incredibly well, especially for an outro.
MAN PLAYS THE HORN may be a long adventure, but do not be afraid to indulge into this record. It is one that came in promoting growth as well as good-hearted soulfulness and came out the same exact way. Each track is special in its own way and there was almost no point where the album comes off as boring or cliché. This album, at least for now, is under-appreciated and deserves a spot in any album of the year list.
Listen here: Cities Aviv – MAN PLAYS THE HORN