One-L: “LEVELS” – the ability to maneuver within hip-hop’s existing boundaries
One-L is the rap artist from Los Angeles who kicked off the year with brand new album entitled “LEVELS”, which is an anagram for Leaving Every Virtue Entirely Lost In Success. The eight track album showcases a talent maturing, developing and breaking through ground. We witness the depth of One-L’s abilities when he spins tales of pain, loss, love and woe. This is viewed in the dramatic narrative of “Words” (Prod. Aaron Sibert). The song is so powerful and immediate and woven effortlessly and charismatically. The same qualities are again exhibited in “Infernal Eternal” (Prod. Nick Luscombe).
Though “Infernal Eternal” proves to be one of the most emotionally riveting and spellbindingly, poetically told sonic tales in quite some time, the listening experiences gets even better on “No Gravity” (Prod. Epistra Beats) and “Serpent King” (Prod. Grizzly Beats).
Much of the sound One-L evokes on this effort is epic and gritty. It fuses beautifully with the high-caliber energy and general air of authenticity One-L radiates when he displays his ability to spit bars.
We hear these undeniable qualities spill through our speakers on the five minute and twenty three second rhyme-fest, “Rizen” (Prod. Dizzee Beats). It also transpires on the solid “Love Zone” (Prod. Nomed Beats).
The album is, as a sum, entertaining; perfect music meant to create an enjoyable atmosphere of uncomplicated head-nodding. This feeling takes charge of the rest of the LP, and the whole endeavor becomes a sucker punch of unexpected emotion. It begins slowly, but potently, on “Blackhole” (Prod.MXS Beats) and only becomes more gripping until the moment the material bows out.
This album is, not only perfectly honed, but absolutely impeccable in resonating the overall atmosphere, with One-L’s meticulous storytelling skills propelling these compositions to further greatness. It is an example of the potency of his craft and hip hop as a whole.
One of the album’s sharpest facets is that every work is trimmed of any extraneous fat and largely, in turn, has a tidy and in-excessive three to four minute runtime. The sum of One-L’s new work i is certainly evenly balanced.
In so doing, it paints his personality in a well-rounded manner and the LP has a certain slant into darkness and One-L’s inner-self that makes the whole work seem all the more ambitious. It is, ultimately, a display of craftsmanship.
His confidence in his own material makes me wonder and anticipate if he will replicate this even-handed approach in his next album. I get chills at the thought of what someone with the growing caliber of talent One-L displays throughout “LEVELS” could generate if he was concentrated in such a manner on each subsequent recording.
He sacrifices radio attention for compelling, cohesive, and real music. However, as this album shows, it’s One-L ability to maneuver within hip-hop’s existing boundaries that makes him so on point and, ultimately, enjoyable.