Mixtape Review-High N’ Love by Alier Johnson
Alier Johnson is a Chicago native raised in Oakland and his new mixtape, High N’ Love (presented by Thizzler), really sticks to you. It provides images like “But still when I go put the pen to the pad I can picture all you hatin'” on L.T.N.T. Like There’s No Tomorrow that make you freeze the triumphant warm feeling and wonder about the challenges behind the success. Lots of people make Success rap. The kind of music you put on when you need to feed your determination. What Alier does so well is help us understand what that success triumphed over. In Hold On he doesn’t just talk about settling for Top Ramen but turning down healthy charity 2% milk in favor of his own spoiled milk, his voice exposes the PTSD from the dank hallways of humble beginnings and when he says “If It wasn’t for my pen and pad, probably still be stuck in those dark days” he sounds thankful, just as thankful as he is determined. If you are at all unclear about the point I’m making listen to the first verse of Amazing where we go from basketball shots to gunshots and the desperate struggle to be more than just surroundings, Alier leaves no mystery to his purpose “this song is about accomplishing dreams so kill whatever’s in the way, be forever supreme.”
That’s what the whole album is about. Alex Issak and Paul Cabbin do the best work behind the boards making sure the drums are right behind Mr. Johnson. Natoya Willock does a fantastic job with some chorus assists. This is not a set of music you sit through like a seminar (all lyrics, trash beats) instead you get minimalist sonic jewels like All Good that you can bang for anyone and sing the hook like a radio hit (thank you Alex Issak), all the while Alier is telling you its ok to shop at thrift shops if you need too(but not in a way to repurpose it as the new cool), don’t let anyone cheapen your value. He even explains how supply and demand effect contract negotiations with his label contract.
High N’ Love has a hearty, chunky, filling effect without ever preaching or talking down to its audience. I love how proud the “I’m so high” song Fade Away is and Paul Cabbin uses the piano sample perfectly. It doesn’t really have a lead single stand out (Killa is pretty close, really really jamming) but boy is this project cohesive and likable. Sonically it’s a delicate experiment in having your slaps while serious subjects get spoken over them. High N’ Love is health food that tastes great and that’s not always easy to find. It may not even be one of the top mixtapes of 2015 by years end but I’ll tell you something…his next one could be.
download High N’ Love from the link below (explore Thizzler while you are there they have great stuff):