Time to Get Your Factz Straight…

The Dark Phoenix: ALPHA

 This time around I’m reviewing Mickey Factz‘s The Dark Phoenix: ALPHA. Mickey Factz is another favorite of mine amongst XXL‘s Freshman 10; plus he automatically receives hometown love since he hails from Bronck’s County. He’s also a fellow 80’s baby (July 13, 1985). But that’s enough fandom for one paragraph, let’s get into the tape.

 “The Dark Phoenix: ALPHA” (ALPHA for short.) is considered to be somewhat of an experimental venture by both critics and fans. I first recognized that Factz was going in a more “alternative” direction on “Don’t Be Light” Featuring N*E*R*D* (The Leak Vol. 1: The Understanding), nonetheless the song is still a favorite of mine. This time around he goes even further left, sampling songs from indie rock band Phoenix‘s most recent album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. I’m going out on limb and saying that ALPHA looks to be a Rap/Hip-Hop retake on Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Except for “Still I Rise” which sample Maxwell’s “Phoenix Rise”

  • First up is Sunrise, a very theatrical introduction to a very theatrical mixtape. This track sets the tone for the rest of tape by giving off a very post-apocalyptic space odyssey kind of feel. It samples Phoenix’s “Love Like a Sunset, Pt. 1  and serves as a very intriguing fantasia-esque opening hook. Mickey insightfully states in between raps:

“Life is like Art without an eraser… watch what you draw.”

 

  • Next up is Amnesia, a fast paced track on which Mickey’s lyrical dexterity is provided a more potent opportunity to shine through. His vocals seem a little more amplified and the listener is given a chance to really exam Mick’s wordplay. There looks to be an absence of a Phoenix sampling although the drumline does sounds like a sped up version of the drumline in Lasso. The song rounds out to about 3 minutes (2:56 exactly) but with the in-song intermission and quick rhythm, it feels more like two. At this point the listener has determined whether he/she wants to listen thoroughly or just skim through the rest of the tape in hopes that something catches their ear.

 

  • If you decided to stick around Factz promptly rewards you with the next two tunes, first is Turn It Up. The beat possesses a Cool Kids feel, much like “Rockin’ n’ Rollin’. His flow is even similar and much well received to be truthful. The alternative fast paced flow that he implements on other songs during the tape become a bit annoying after awhile. I feel Mickey is more effective when he takes his time. It’s one of my favorite songs on ALPHA but unfortunately it’s only 2:06 long.

 

  • Then we have Still I Rise, a reworking of Maxwell‘s Phoenix Rise“. Factz switches back to his alternate “quick stabbing” flow and appropriately so; the crisp rhythmic bongos in the background go perfectly with his marathon rhetorics. The song then resets around the 1:30 mark and so does Mickey but he starts out in the same lyrical format that he used in the beginning of the song, only with completely different lyrics. I have to say this my second favorite song on the tape… and the Maxwell sample doesn’t hurt either. Mick vulnerably raps:

 “Why are the people so quick to hurt me?/ Quick to merc me?/ Where’s the mercy?/ Slow to help me, No one felt me/ Why? They just ‘Clueless‘, Brittany Murphy…”

 

  • Ashes samples Phoenix’s Rome. Mickey makes good use of the sample that eerily echoes in the beginning:

“Always and forever more
I called to say I’m on the way
1,000 years remain in the trashcan
I burned the cigarette somewhere
Ashes still it fall fall falls
…”

  • Mickey then goes on to spit love scarred lyric about a struggling romance. I see what he was going for but the whole scheme came off as a bit melodramatic. Luckily the sample dominates most of the song making it sound like more of a remix and less of a cover. Despite the theatrics it passes for one of my favorite songs on the tape but this affinity is almost solely attributed to the Phoenix sample.

 

  • S/ecrets T/hat D/estroy“, one of the longer songs on the tape, has a certain East Coast bite. Sampling Armistice, Mickey uses it’s pretty hard guitar riff as the rhyming platform while letting the faster paced portion of the sample serve as the bridge/chorus. Mickey uses the wicked riff to spin his own versions of gritty street tales and real life hardship. The track appropriately ends with an epic crescendo; like something you might find in a science fiction film.

 

  • The next track, Contemplations of Kings, begins with Factz speaking candidly to the listener about the pressures of stardom and “making it”. Although the song is very well put together and contains a very impressive baseball analogy it fails to reach its full potential. In fact it feels a bit pretentious. Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite place the sample. By now, the listener is waiting for Factz to pull out all the stops on the last song.

 

“The Sunsets are so beautiful that… it’s like you’re looking through the gates of Heaven.”

  • The song then transcends into Factz signing from what seems to the listeners perspective, asking to shown something that he’s never seen before. Things then take a frantic turn when “Sunset” fades into a frantic evacuation like sequence, in common theatrical fashion. It’s somewhat of an enjoyable conclusion to a very trippy mixtape. I failed to say this earlier but a snippet of another song could be found towards the end of almost every song the tape. I thought it was a pleasant surprise, thought you might too.

 

Despite some frayed edges this is still a worthwile tape. It isn’t exactly the best I’ve have heard from Factz but it shows progression. It reminds us that he’s more than Supras. He’s a soul attempting to etch his name in time. As long he retains his sharp wit and keeps the rhythm of rap down to a steady bop, he should continue to evolve our senses.

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