After making a name for himself as a talented producer, under the pseudonym of BBeck and working with rap trio Travis Porter to create the hit single “Aww Yeah”, Gabriel Alexander is releasing his first official mixtape as a vocal artist. Offering a hybrid of Hip Hop and RnB with elements of Dubstep and Electro Pop, Alexander is looking to establish his own brand in the music industry with a mixtape which will hopefully answer its title; “Who Is Gabriel Alexander?”
The mixtape opens up with with the self-produced “Catch Your Dreams.” The rhyme scheme and flow is most certainly not one for hip hop heads as Gabriel opts for a more pop influenced, Taylor Swift-esque, monosyllabic, rhyming couplets style aside from the dream/bling/limousine bar which incorporated internal rhymes. However the mic presence and message behind the track is uplifting, inspirational and optimistic and is a more than enjoyable listen. The perks of being a producer and artist is that you can create an instrumental to perfectly suit your vocal style and Alexander nails it.
Track two, “Living In The Moment” offers an electro-pop sound perfectly suitable for any club to have on repeat with unusually well-placed dubstep breaking up a captivating chorus. This is a track which could easily be mistaken as a Chris Brown song were it not for the distinguishable aggressive tone Alexander uses for the hook. “Living In The Moment” pays more attention to Bbeck’s incredible production skills rather than the vocals, as any good Club-Pop song should be with generic, youthful lyrics proving Gabriel knows how to create music for the masses.
Following on, Chase Ave contributes a feature for “Remember Me“. The track showcases the results of when Club-Hop meets love songs and displays a sound reminiscent of a 90’s boy-band anthem. It is a song which I can’t help but feel is missing an extra layer due to the lack of dubstep evidenced in the preceding track despite the addition of Chase Ave rapping a verse. Chase Ave’s verse sounds significantly slicker than Gabriel’s rapping on “Catch Your Dreams” but is still not overwhelmingly impactful. He does however fit fairly well into the Club-Hop love song.
Just when you think there is no possible way an artist can make a song about drinking an irresponsible amount of alcohol, there always seems to be one come along to prove us wrong. “12 Shots” is Gabriel Alexander’s own example of this. “12 Shots” features a “Aint nobody got time for that” adlib that will inevitably become quoted if the song ever, as it deserves to, reach the club circuits. It is not dissimilar to the type of song Cobra Starship made on their “Viva La Cobra” album and Gabriel shows a similar level of skill to Cobra Starship when it comes to creating captivating chorus’.
“Gimmie Ya Luvin” featuring WeThe5th is probably the most radio-ready record of the album and sounds like it was picked right out of the Billboard 100. Unlike “Remember Me” it also manages to contain a contemporary sound and the song could very easily have been written for a Hip Hop and Justin Timberlake collaboration or those of that ilk. Gabriel, credited as BBeck, really shows of his production abilities in this song. If it weren’t for the instrumental, “Gimmie Ya Luvin” might not sound as good as it does. I don’t often consider any song as perfect, but this is pretty close despite the slightly cringe-worthy title.
The mood shifts with a slower tempo in a predominantly guitar filled instrumental for “I Feel The Same.” This reflects BBeck’s versatility, from making Dubstep heavy dance tracks to a very minimilstic, stripped back ballad-esque song. I cannot help but compare Alexander to boy bands with “I Feel The Same,” as it sounds exactly like the majority of boy band slower tempo song since the 90’s. This song received a warm reception from my ears as the club-hop was starting to grow too repetitive and blurring into one monotonously long song.
How Gabriel Alexander manages to replicate the boy band sound with just one voice bemuses me. It shows the range in vocal talent he has, is as versatile as his production. “Last Night In The City” wouldn’t be out of place on a JLS album, with a smooth RnB vocal delivered by Alexander but still the lyrics are still laden with a semantic field of alcohol and partying. As much as the song is very enjoyable, it could be argued the variety between the tracks on “Who Is Gabriel Alexander” is very limited.
“Missing You” is a song which has me thinking the answer to “Who Is Gabriel Alexander,” is a song thief. This song could have been written by or for any prominent RnB star in the music industry. So maybe the answer is just a very talented song writer. The hook does its job perfectly, adding as a nice interlude juxtaposing the rapped verses which do remain in a rhyme couplets style but sounds more polished than “Catch Your Dreams.” Thankfully this song is a straight-forward love song completely void of any signs of partying, clubbing or alcohol consumption. The song was produced by Clint Easwood, but the quality was no different than the impressive standard set by BBeck.
Clint Easwood remains at the production board for the Emmanuel Brown featured “Love Or The Money.” A nice balance is found by Gabriel Alexander between self-hype with the mention of success and money, with being introspective as he questions the loyalty of a girl. Emmanuel Brown doesn’t offer anything other than a variation in voice to a track which although isn’t awful, isn’t quite the standard Alexander has set. The chorus is as catchy as the preceding tracks but the verses are sub-par. I think the main fault of the verse is that it isn’t technically good enough to be accepted by underground fans, and not poppy enough for the mainstream audience.
Mixtape closer “Never Felt So Alive” is an amazing way to summarise “Who Is Gabriel Alexander?” The track is one of the lyrical highlights of the tape but is coupled with a control of tone by Alexander not previously evidenced. I think “Never Felt So Alive” is the song that is radio-ready while not particular suitable for clubs due to a more conscious story. The hook isn’t as captivating as most but still maintains a professional sound. Probably my favourite mixtape closer since Jimmie Murphy’s “Descendre.”
So, “Who Is Gabriel Alexander?” did indeed answer the question its title poses. It is quite clear that Gabriel Alexander is a tantalizingly talented song writer and vocalist with extra skills in rapping in addition to his already proven production abilities. The mixtape did however have one flaw. Too much of the same style of music. The first 10 tracks were very much Club-Pop heavy and then the rest of the mixtape featured boy band-esque love songs. Gabriel managed to distinguish himself with the use of varied instrumentals but diverse subject matter could do with some focus. It is easy to see why Gabriel is signed to Sony however as the quality of the mixtape was consistent throughout. If this is the first mixtape, imagine what an album could be like?
Stand Out Song(s) – 12 Shots / Gimmie Ya Luvin / Never Felt So Alive
Mixtape Rating – 4.25/5
The Mixtape “Who Is Gabriel Alexander?” is due to be released on the 13th of March 2013.
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