SOTBMusic Retrospective: @SpeedontheBeat's Baltimore Commercial Break


This August 17th marks the two-year anniversary of an album that I consider my favorite project to work on, even considering the background of it, Baltimore Commercial Break. Now, while I've talked a bit about the processes and the stories behind some of the tracks in passing, I'd like to take this time to really evaluate some of my choices in a way that'll obviously be biased, but still truthful enough and true to what makes SOTBMusic great. Apologies in advance if this gets a bit rant-like; it's somewhat intentional.



As I've mentioned before, this project was originally to be an EP which led into what would've been my final album, From Juke Joints to Greatness. But, after recording parts of the project and the passing of Mama Young (along with some other things, including a blowout fight with my son's mother that I still feel repercussions from to this day), I decided to expand it into a love letter for my hometown. Baltimore has been a hellhole in some ways, but it's helped to make me into the man I am today (as mentioned on "Wun of Baltimore's Finest Features"). 

Because of that, the tracks that dig into the mythos of SOTB, such as "Oriole Magic" and "Late Night Movie Show," they're the tracks that stand out to me as favorites and choice cuts. The album is conceptual, but highly personal. Everything about it was deliberately done to present the project as both a love letter to Baltimore, but also as a "day in the life" project and what happens when a good thing starts to devolve into hell. 

The project opens with "Take You There," a bouncy, triumphant track that announces that it feels "good to be home again." For about 75% of this album, it did feel good to be back at rapping and back into a Baltimore vibe. I had a chance to get back to my roots and showcase what made Baltimore such a vibrant, eclectic city. However, by the end of the album, that "good feeling to know" has dissipated into a dark despair. To be honest, BCB is probably darker than even Unhinged. At least with Unhinged, you expected it to be dark; it was the project recorded in the aftermath of my mom's death. 

However, with BCB, the gradual shift from happy-go-lucky to a man clawing his way out of a self-made abyss, it's reflective of my mental health struggles. Additionally, it's dark to hear a guy lying to himself on tracks like "WBFF" in saying that things are going well when the world he knows is crumbling around him. And it makes the downfall that much more poignant. 

That's why the album ended on the Mama Young-aided skit "Missed Calls, Missed Chance?" As mentioned before, I finished the album around the time of my mom's death and I felt it was appropriate, for the dark turns in the album, to have my mother call me and tell me to stop acting like a damned fool. That message was recorded on a night where I completely lost myself to alcohol (one of the reasons why I don't drink like I used to is because of that night that I won't talk much about on here) and mental illness.

People will often tell me that Songs For... was my best album because it was introspective and emotional as hell. However, I want to point those people to this project. It's even more introspective and deals with even more than S4 did, from an emotional standpoint. There's a plethora of internal and external conflict and it's just a dope love letter that doubles as a cry for help. So, if you've never checked out BCB, do so above and remember: support dope music in all its forms.

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