Souleye – Wildman


Souleye, one of hip hop’s most distinctive artists and performers, has returned with another single from his future LP release. “Wildman” is the title cut to his upcoming effort and benefits from the typical array of strengths distinguishing his work from so many in the field. The outstanding production values constituting its presentation are customary touches for an artist who enjoys a great deal of respect from critics and his peers, but has never experienced the same level of widespread commercial success less challenging and shallow entertainers have enjoyed. Let’s be grateful Souleye is still making his mark just outside the mainstream. He’s retained his freedom and the same keen observational skills helping him stand out in a crowded field. There’s an intelligence at work quite unlike anything you typically here from performers of this ilk – this isn’t to say his peers are dumb, but Souleye’s deepest purpose isn’t just to entertain. Souleye wants you to share in his feelings and experiences moving in life and, moreover, form a sense of community with audiences who derive pleasure and meaning from his work.

The backing track alternates between hard hitting, uncluttered groove and upswings in musical intensity that climax in accord with the vocal melody. The duo of featured artist Lynx and Souleye strike a notable contrast thanks to her immense stylishness, full of R&B soul, placed against Souleye’s introspective mood and obviously self-assurance. There are some real concessions to melody in various facets of this presentation listeners do not often hear from other hip hop acts and it’s reassuring to note how after countless releases and live performances Souleye remains resolutely committed to test his boundaries in an all encompassing fashion. They tailor their respective vocals, as well, in such a way that they become two more instruments working for the cause of the song and there’s never even a hint of one trying to upstage the other.

Souleye’s writing ranks among the best of his career. It’s clear after either reading the lyrics or else listening to the song why Souleye picked this as a featured track and title of his latest collection. He shows a real penchant for probing writing that may surprise those who know little about hip hop and that’s an important fact to note. There’s little question that a track like this has some form of cross over potential – it’s difficult, if not impossible, to imagine how music lovers who admire quality songwriting, regardless of their preconceptions about the style, wouldn’t find much to praise about Souleye’s talents. “Wildman” stands as another seminal turning point in a career already deserving of laurel leaves. At this point, Souleye is building a legacy and songs like this title track from his new album reveal him to be an artist still hungry for another mountain to climb.


David Shouse