Last year, Columbus emcee/producer released his excellent sophomore solo album, Adventures In Counter-Culture, on Rhymesayers. It was an album a long time in the making, which resulted from a period of intense songwriting and experimentation with style for Blueprint. As it turns out, that period was so fruitful, when Blueprint went back to the excess material to see if there was anything he wanted to release as bonus tracks or maybe an EP, he surprised himself to find that he had fifteen songs that he felt were strong enough to release to the public. The result is Deleted Scenes, one of the strongest accidental albums you’ll ever come across.
Listening to Deleted Scenes, all I can think of is how hard it must have been to pare down Blueprint’s horde of songs into the album that was AICC. Going into a record like this one, my expectations are usually along the lines of “Well, this is the material that didn’t make it - there might be some interesting or weird stuff, but this was all thrown out for a reason.” As I continue to listen to Deleted Scenes, all I can think of is how many of the songs keep growing on me and really excite me. It’s really a testament to how hard Blueprint had been working to make his new music both experimental and challenging, but at the same time really accessible and engaging. For the most part, Print hasn’t changed his delivery when he‘s rapping, which is a clear and deliberate cadence that gives extra weight to his words. However, Print doesn’t just rap on this album as demonstrates his ability as a vocalist once again, whether it be the background harmonies on “Takin’ It,” or the phased and echoed vocals on “The Mask” that suggest that Print could be fronting a psychedelic band if he wanted to, or the gentle soulful delivery of “Senseless.” He also enlists the help of a few female musicians on vocals, namely Dominique LaRue, Adoria, Angelic Lee, and Nina D. They are all great, as is the guest verse from fellow Columbus emcee Zero Star on “Bartenders.” The guest spot that blew me away, though, and the one that really elevates and expands the sound of the album, is Terry Troutman from Zapp on “Leave Me Alone.” I never considered what it would sound like if you combined Blueprint’s production with Zapp’s electro-boogie, but am I ever glad that the thought crossed Print’s mind, because the result is amazing, and it’s far and away the song I keep returning to the most. As I’ve already alluded to, Deleted Scenes covers a wide range of sounds, much like it’s predecessor. There’s some down tempo hip hop, which is Print’s bread and butter, but there are some really varied musical elements and styles woven in that really spice things up. There’s the beautiful flute/French horn intro on “The American Dream” before things pick up with a syncopated beat that’ll get your head nodding. There’s the disco-punk of “Bells and Whistles,” the go-go funk of “Senseless,” and he even covers Radiohead with “Packt Like.” However, the real gem comes in the form of “The Mask,” which develops slowly as a piano builds on an arpeggio as Blueprint’s vocals come in, while a synthesizer fades in and out of the background before a string section enters the song. An electric guitar subtly starts improvising in the background and tension begins to build. The energy continues to rise as drums finally hit over halfway through the song, as a wah wah guitar solo comes to the forefront and a violin solo is played against it in the background. It’s an amazing piece of musicianship and songwriting, but most importantly, it doesn’t sound out of place amongst the rest of the album. It’s the perfect expansion and compliment to the rest of Deleted Scenes. Blueprint is on point with his lyrics as well, tackling personal material like that of “True Love,” or the highly politicized material of “The American Dream” or “Babies With Guns,” or taking on the music industry in a song like “Bartenders.”
For an album that could have never seen the light of day, I’m sure glad that Deleted Scenes came out. Usually when a collection of songs that didn’t make the first cut for an album are released, it’s something that you’d only recommend to the most devoted fans. With Deleted Scenes, we get an album that’s right on par with Adventures In Counter-Culture, and could easily be an entry point for new listeners.
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