I had to pick up this album on concept alone. A hip hop album based on High Fidelity? It’s an interesting enough concept and I’m a big enough fan of both the book and movie that I’m going to give this album a fair chance. I don’t know too much about Donwill’s group Tanya Morgan, so I can’t give you too much insight as to where this fits into their discography. I do know hip hop and High Fidelity, and was intrigued by this interesting idea.

The album has several vocal interludes where Donwill quotes lines from the movie, and for the most part I think it works in connecting the songs. It opens with him opining about pop music making us miserable, which segues nicely into a song entitled “Laura,” an introspective break-up song. “Top Five” is a great funky old-school hip hop song about ex-girlfriends that would make Rob Gordon proud. “Championship Vinyl” features some great record nerd battle raps over beats that would be at home on a People Under the Stairs or Ugly Duckling album. “Ian’s Song,” with Opio from Souls of Mischief doesn’t work out the way the other songs had to up to this point, and comes across unfocused lyrically and production-wise. “Shake it Easy,” has a smooth R&B feel to it that I just can’t quite get into, though nothing especially wrong with it. “Love Junkie,” the Marie DeSalle song, picks up the pace with an early ‘90s R&B hip hop vibe that will make you want to turn it up and dance. The recreation of the conversation where Rob finds out that Laura’s dad died is a little awkward in that it features Donwill’s vocals reading Rob’s lines, but audio from the movie providing the rest. The song about this, “December 27,” is quite good, with minimal production leading to some nice rhymes reflecting on life. “Breathe” is another great song dealing with the subject of death that is quite moving. The next couple of songs are about the reconciliation of Rob and Laura, but lyrically and musically leave me wanting (the Chris Brown joke in “Good” is nothing to kid about, guys).

From here, the album falls apart a little bit, both in structure and in quality. “P**** Rules the World” seems wildly out of place in the scope of the project, with some unhealthy anti-woman rhymes that really take away from the personal relationship scope of the majority of the album. After that, the songs are all right, but feel tacked on, and I’m not sure why they were included when the album felt like it wrapped up “Leading Lady.”

So to wrap things up, for his first solo venture, Donwill chose an interesting concept for an album, and for majority of the album it works well, but really falls apart at the end. Is it better to burn out? This album fades away.