“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t.” Coming in right at the start of the intro, the infamous Alice In Wonderland quote provides a glimpse of the trippy paradise to come in  Abstract Island, the first full-length album from Boston rapper Manni Festo. He opened for Skizzy Mars earlier this year at Northeastern University, and there will hopefully be more to come. This album, full of jazzy beats, skilled lyricism and features from local Boston bands, is definitely worth the listen.

Abstract Island lives up to its name; it’s a funky musical look into the creators mind that combines old-school hip-hop style with guitar riffs and echoey psychedelic layers. While the free-flowing style is laid-back,  the message of the lyrics is urgent, and Manni Festo thoughtfully touches on subjects raging from risking heartbreak in “Lioness” to the struggle of following your dreams in “Slave.” His lyrics are a punch to the gut: “There’s a misconception about when you test dreams, it seems you gotta choose between less soul or less green.” The whole song is an intense look at listening to yourself in a world thats full of people trying to tell you what to do: “Yeah, your mom is proud of you but are you proud of yourself?” The smooth sax and piano combo in the background lets Manni’s rapping take center stage.

Sadly, that coherence between beat and rap isn’t always there, and at times the complexity of the beats sounds a bit messy and distracts from the quality lyricism that makes the album so distinct. However, his layering of instruments and samples from TV shows demonstrates a lot of promise and Manni hits the perfect balance of unique yet balanced in “Free.”

Bouncy and funky, Manni’s flow has West Coast vibes, despite the fact that he hails from New Jersey. Best shown on “Rap Is Not Pop,” a sarcastic commentary on pop culture and the rap scene, the entire track is as catchy as the pop songs it mocks. Make sure you stick around for the final song– fellow Bostonian Anjimile brings her soulful voice as both bid their listeners farewell.

Those looking for party-ready raps or lightening fast lyrics might want to pass, as this album requires more  patience and thoughtful attention. However, if you’re in the mood for lazy summer jams or serious contemplation, lay back, turn up the volume and take a visit to Abstract Island.

Album Review: Manni Festo - Abstract Islands
  • Mature, thoughtful lyrics
  • Smooth flow
  • Craftsmanship in beats
  • Many songs sound similar
  • Could use polishing up
7.9Fresh & Funky

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