Last year, Madison's hip-hop community endured yet another installment of a tiresome soap opera. For those unfamiliar, it's called Local Hip-Hop Artists Don't Get Booked at Clubs Because a Few People Started Fights. But MC Dexter Patterson, a.k.a. Tefman, has started 2013 on a positive note with his solo album, Feel Good Music. The album's title track is a good accompaniment to a fresh start.
The album's 16 tracks draw on 13 different producers, including DJ Pain 1, DLO and Rickaby. As an MC, Tefman still relies on a lot of manly grit and tries to capture the ostentatious energy of Ghostface Killah. In that sense, he's not much different from the artist he was during his days with local hip-hop group the L.O.S.T S.O.U.L.S or on his 2011 solo album, F%#k Tefman.
But on "Feel Good Music," Vaughn "Scattered Brains" Freitag's production uses airy synth hooks to create a feeling of renewal and uplift. And the verses here, in addition to talking about success and shaking off the haters, suggest a more mature outlook: "Break the cycle, I hold my kids as I kiss them/It might be hard, but thank life for your wisdom."
The chorus makes it clear that part of the onus is on you, the listener, to get something good out of the tune: "It's that feel good music/It's up to you how you use it." Of course, there's still room for some old-fashioned, good-natured boasting about rhyme skills: "Real life, like I took my first breath in the booth."
At times the other songs on Feel Good Music slip into simplistic tough-guy stuff, but all in all, the album sinks in nicely because Tefman and his collaborators have made a real effort to give it some variety. Plus, tracks like "Do It for the Love," which features a soaring vocal hook, reinforce the feeling that Tefman's hopes stretch beyond well-worn notions of hip-hop glory.
Feel Good Music will be released online Saturday, Jan 19. As for other local hip-hop prospects, MC E Sweez dropped an unwieldy free album in late December, and Sincere Life recently released a video for "Done It Again" from a forthcoming EP entitled Write of Passage.
MadTracks highlights and provides MP3s of songs performed by local musicians. All tracks here are provided with permission of the artist. If you are a musician based in the Madison metro area and are interested in sharing your work as a MadTrack, please send a message.