by Petula Caesar
Released on Tuesday, April 1st, “Let’s Push The Button” was spearheaded by “retired” Baltimore rapper Ogun. As he explains on track 26 of the mixtape, he is seeking to harness the collective power of Baltimore artists by exposing their talent to media. He plans to distribute press releases along with the mixtape to those unfamiliar with artists like Heavy Gold, Shellbe Raw, Jinxx, Starrzz, J Soul and others featured on the project. “Let’s Push The Button”, while not a bad idea, isn’t necessarily the best way to draw the attention of the media who should matter most – those unfamiliar with them who are in a position to introduce them to new audiences.
At 25 tracks of artists mostly unheard of outside of the Baltimore area, “Push The Button” is much too long. Most media will look at the number of tracks and push it aside. An EP approach of 5-8 songs would have been more effective packaging. Secondly, there was a lack of variety in styles of hip hop on “Let’s Push The Button” — especially through the first half of the mixtape. “Let’s Push The Button” is rather trap music heavy – and as tends to be the case with trap music, either its really good or really awful. But if you’re not a fan of the trap music rap style, or are looking for a mix of styles, after the first 3-4 “Let’s Push The Button” tracks, you won’t listen any further. A broader, more inclusive representation of Baltimore hip hop styles more strategically placed throughout the mixtape would have made the project a better listen overall. “Let’s Push The Button” seems to include a very limited pool of area rap talent, and there are other local waters that should have been explored – this would have also helped the project find wider appeal among a broader range of listeners.
Thirdly, this particular mixtape needed a star. Though former Bad Boy artist King Los appears on “Let’s Push The Button” (one of the songs I did enjoy), he is not billed as the mixtape’s star, nor is his appearance particularly noted or promoted. A collective of relatively unknown artists stands a better chance of being taken seriously if presented by someone who has managed to achieve at least some success. The outcome of Los’ relationship with Bad Boy notwithstanding, the fact that he was signed with them to begin with still makes him the best person to create interest in “Let’s Push The Button” (presuming he’d even want to.) By not recognizing Los as someone who could be a major draw for this project, “Let’s Push The Button” demonstrates a lack of understanding of marketing. It also points to an ongoing problem that seems to plague the Baltimore hip hop community – an unwillingness to recognize, support, and even learn from those in its circle who have achieved the most success. The hip hop artists in Baltimore who get national media attention, who land deals, who perform at top venues in Baltimore and outside Baltimore, who actually move product, get radio play, go on tours and have forward momentum in their careers seem to consistently get ignored by local Baltimore artists who claim to “run the city”, though they are unheard of outside their small circle. Then those successful artists do the only thing they can do – leave the city’s scene for places where they are respected and supported and can achieve the next level in their careers.
Musically, the tracks that “Let’s Push The Button” presents are technically solid and competently produced for the most part. The vocalists who sing hooks are fairly good singers. Standouts for me were Los’ “Poundcake Freestyle” and “Oprah” by Starrz (its got a booming track and a hook that could easily make it a summertime hit). “Stop Sign Slim” by Ogun and Skarr Akbar definitely got my attention. At times the songs ran together for me. Some of the rappers that sung probably shouldn’t have. At times I heard lyrics I liked but I didn’t care for the track, and vice versa. “Let’s Push The Button” did allow me to put all these artists side by side and hear their work and make comparisons. There were a few gems in there, but I would have loved to have heard more of them. I would like to see Baltimore artists work harder at finding their unique voices — actually working at not sounding like everything and everyone they hear all the time. Standing out from the crowd of artists surrounding you is important for success in entertainment. It is my hope the artists on “Push The Button” will consider this as they write and record their music in the future and that they’ll step their games up in every way.
“Let’s Push The Button” is available for free download and streaming by clicking here.