HigherGround, consisting of local rappers Change Up and Worsthabitt, have done it again. Just last weekend, this Porterville duo released their latest project, entitled “Still Hungry.” The album features 14 of the group’s freshest and hardest tracks, and also features several other Central Valley artists.
First and foremost, I felt it was a huge plus that listeners could appreciate the sound quality of the project. The first track set the standard for the rest of the album. The vocal clarity is great, the levels are all mixed well, vocal dubs aren’t too loud, and the recording engineer made good use of the extra vocal effects. The only drawback is that you can tell the entire album was not mixed the same. Once you get to the 3rd or 4th song, this becomes apparent. The mixing is still very well done, but there is a noticeable EQ shift or change with the instrumentals and vocals. For all I know, this may have been intentional. Still sounds good, just caught my attention.
There are two things I can’t stand when listening to local artists with talent and potential: shitty beats and shitty collabs. I’m happy to say “Still Hungry” didn’t contain either of those. Their instrumentals had that classic dark/hard hip-hop vibe, but still maintained a professional sound, suitable for more commercial instances, if they so desired. I also thought the majority of collaborations were dope. Although a few of the features were not helping to push HigherGround’s sound, many others went in and killed their verses. It also isn’t always about who sounds good, but who meshes in with the style and compliments the album, as a whole. In that case, I feel Merduh The Innocynce, Izzy Drastik, Cobalt45, and Johnni Digi complimented this project the best. There were, however, a few noticeable differences in the mixing of the collab tracks. Some of the verses were peaking in certain areas, and some weren’t loud enough in comparison to the rest of the song’s verses.
Aside from the collaborations and audio quality, the content of the album was well above par. I enjoy listening to music that has a little substance and speaks about meaningful aspects of day-to-day life. The lyrics I heard on the album were pretty heavy, with little or no filler. I heard lots of clever lines and punches throughout the entirety of the project. When an artist is consistent with their wordplay, I feel it shows lyrical and stylistic maturity. It’s clear that the two have developed their flow and have learned to compliment each other well. Change Up’s tone is warm and, for the most part, composed. On the other hand, Worsthabitt’s tone is brighter with a subtle bite in some areas. Many consider these two styles to be polar opposites, but in this instance, they fit together just right.
Overall, HigherGround’s “Still Hungry” is an album that features lots of local talent– many local artists, locally recorded, and locally engineered. Although some songs have a noticeably different vibe from the others, the whole album was put together very well. It is obvious the collaborations were chosen carefully, because the other artists on the album contributed very nicely to the hard-hitting foundation HigherGround had already established. The lyrical content had lots of weight behind it, which helped demonstrate the duo’s evolution in today’s world of average rappers and emcees. Although I’m sure the tracks featured on this album will have a nice, extensive run with listeners, I’m eager to hear what HigherGround comes out with in the future.