The world works in mysterious ways. Since signing up with Facebook, the (not so) little social networking website, I’ve managed to reconnect with many people with whom I had lost contact over the years. I found co-workers from my Enterprise Rent-A-Car days. I chatted with some old team members from the UBC Arts Co-op Students Association. But the real blast from the past is when you find no fewer than forty classmates that you haven’t talked to since high school. High school!
One of these guys is Chad Washburn, known better in the semi-underground hip hop world as Chadio, a member of Imaginations Treetrunk. I had the chance to meet up with Chadio a couple of weeks ago and he gave me a copy of his solo debut CD, Underestimated Raindrops. It was professionally recorded at a local studio, and it came with all the usual stuff you’d expect from a commercial production. He really was the real deal, but were his rhymes up to snuff? Would they be enough to get those records sold and take Chadio out of East Vancouver and into the world of superstardom?
Well, a few days prior to actually receiving the CD, I went to his MySpace page where he has a few songs hosted. I was particularly impressed with Gone Fishin’, the first track off of Underestimated Raindrops. It was sick. The beat, produced by Aalo Guha, worked very well with Chadio’s voice as he busted out those rhymes. Something that completely threw me off guard was that they decided to sample a sound byte from Animal Crossing. Yes, the video game that graced the Gamecube and Nintendo DS. The song is called Gone Fishin and they pulled the sound byte where your character, well, goes fishing.
The album is broken up into four parts, as shown below in the track listing. Each of these sections has a distinctly different feel to it, so it’s almost like getting four shorter albums all shoved into one. I’ll be honest with you: the rap songs that you find on Underestimated Raindrops are far from what you hear in the mainstream. Most of the songs don’t have traditional “hooks” and Chadio doesn’t encourage you to “get crunk with it.” His style may have been inspired by several artists, but it’s hard to say that Chadio sounds like anyone in particular. He has a style all his own and that’s what makes this album so interesting.
Some people may like it, other people may not. You’ll find that with most of the tracks, there is a strong sense of separation between the more musical, slower beats provided by Aalo Guha, and the speedy, harder-hitting words of Chadio. This dissonance is clearly intentional and it provides for a welcome break from what we hear on the radio each day. It’s also interesting to note that there are no breaks between individual tracks as they are blended right into one another, much like how a mixtape might be. This adds to the “underground” flavour. It’s also admirable that the rhymes aren’t about busting caps and pimping hoes. I thought “Racists”, despite its somewhat Eminem-feeling sound, was particularly profound.
Other songs that I enjoyed on the album were Big in Japan, Pancakes, Sickest Nikes, and End of the Beginning.
If you want to see Chadio and the rest of the Imaginations Treetrunk crew live in action, you’ll have an opportunity to do that tomorrow night at The Columbia Club in Vancouver, Canada. The address is 303 Columbia Street and from what I hear, admission is only five bucks.
Underestimated Raindrops by Chadio and Aalo Guha is available now for $14.99 from Phonographique.com.
Part I: Underestimated Raindrops
1. Gone Fishin’
3. Big In Japan feat. Azrael
4. Oppressed Together
Part II: Staggered Elation
6. 5 Wide, 1 High feat. Aspire
8. Solitude Song
Part III: Confusual Mysconceptions
9. Being Blind (Seeing Everything) feat. Cee
10. Racists feat. Moves
Part IV: Anticorp
13. Asleep Under A Tree
14. Sickest Nikes feat. Mike Murder
15. The Life & Times (Time Of My Life) feat. Josh Martinez
16. End Of The Beginning feat. Kaboom