Here to give us sugar and spice and everything nice, emcee Lady Paradox from Leicester, England and recording studio master Gadget have finally gotten together to make a collaborative album, coming eight years after the two crossed paths and hit it off in 2008. Eight years in the imagining and more like one or two in the making, Mood Swings (Sept 9, Millennium Jazz/Vinyl Digital) is Lady Paradox’s third album, her first two (Kind of Peace and Soulscapes & Jazz Breaks) being collaborations as well but with the very jazzy Pat D instead of Gadget. Gadget himself can claim The Dirty Thumbs Project compilation from 2011 as one of his own, and while his style of jazz may not be the same as Pat’s, the genre is definitely felt with a causal swing if you will in Mood Swings. Easygoing and rich with deep understanding of the human mind, psyche and condition, it is sure to leave you in a state of both tranquility and enlightenment.
Not your typical rap individual, Lady Paradox is still a fine emcee suspended in a peaceful meditation of good vibes and healthy thought patterns flowing side by side with her music partner. With help from the very soulful Anna Stott on “Modern Reflective,” she displays breathtaking wisdom as she unplugs from the predominant framework of society with its misleading mendacious media, going over some of the common lies and indoctrinated stereotypes that the orchestrators of society have drilled into people since the beginning of time. In exceptional rap form, she begins with a little mimicry, repeating the rhetoric of the powerful, then she moves on to describe the general feeling of citizens in the industrial world when she states, “the problem is youth, the laws they dismantle / not those in suits who are forming a scandal / I feel hopeless like morning is cancelled” … “the system enclosed us, caught on our ankles / holding us down, all of us scramble / ask questions, you’re more than a handful.”
She reminds us to make the best of life in the cool relaxing “Memory Package,” and on “Trust,” she breaks away from conformity, in a spell of beautiful poetry of course. In seeking out what it means to trust, have faith in each other and even if they still exist, she shares where we as a people are going wrong and how we should go forward: “have you ever had that feeling, alone and detached? / surrounded by people but hopeless and trapped / now that you’re grown up her moments have passed” and “fame can arouse us, celebrity status / or hide behind makeup, neglecting my neighbors / ‘people are dangerous’ is pressed in the papers / we pass the blame but society shapes us.” The second verse offers one remedy: “turn off television, choose not to listen and silence the sound, create our own drama with nights on the town.” Her mind is completely purified, going along with her skits forwarding the message that thought dictates mood which dictates one’s general emotional state and disposition. Out with the bad, in with the good.
Speaking of “in with the good,” Lady Paradox does just that with her “Favorite Things.” Emcee Efeks of Prose helps. The little things you can’t put a price on like “the smell of cut grass [and] going dizzy from getting up fast” fuel her in addition to some you wouldn’t immediately expect to please anyone – she says, “I love a bath and the way you say ‘bawth,’ people who place all their faith in the stars, people who want to be famous but aren’t, people who say they’re not racist but are.” “Where The Wild Things Are” could be its sequel because along those same lines of innocent wide-eyed learning and discovery, “Wild Things” revisits childhood, and “One of Those Days” does slow, lazy, do little off-days, those times when we just let our business and normal routines go by the wayside and wait a while. It may or may not help that Lady Paradox and Gadget express guilt from it. We all know these two will get back on their feet: “I must take distractions away, step out the mundane routines, this lack of motivation is a must change.” -Gadget
In the end and to get guidance due to her curious exploratory nature, Lady Paradox sends a “Dear Future Self” to the person she’ll soon become, asking questions about what type of woman she’s going to be, if she’s changed and most importantly how the world will turn out. She can’t tell her younger self what is to happen but leaves her with the grounded advice to “appreciate and just live your days.” To no surprise since Gadget is a fine music maker and Lady Paradox is such a different incredibly heartfelt rapper, Mood Swings is absolutely sensational, featuring the fine touch and the voice of reason of a smart young woman over sweet equalizing beats of a kicked back variety. It’s like a warm home cooked meal after a hard day’s work on a bitter cold winter’s night. It makes you feel good all over and restores you to normal. It must be because very popular hip-hop in general has too much propaganda that Mood Swings eliminates it entirely from the agenda, and to highly desirable results too. The album doesn’t suffer from the emotional fluctuations of its name simply because it knows how to work around them.
5 out of 5 stars