So To Speak
In a pop climate where mainstream hip-hop consumers are salivating for Young Jeezy’s thugged-out storytelling to give them a vicarious tour via motor coach through Atlanta’s toughest crack houses, Milwaukee’s Speak Easy cranks the bus into reverse, jams the accelerator, and suggests that a tough upbringing in North Milwaukee doesn’t have to make you a thug.
“Here’s a little story about a young black male / Never hustled on a block / never did a day in jail / Despite that, people still thought I would fail / It’s my life, my struggle, my story to tell,” spits Speak Easy on “Perspective,” the opening cut of his latest opus, So To Speak. On the Dave Derrilykt-produced “Who Am I,” the rapper continues to smash the ice between himself and the listener, as his punchy flow struts across the space-jazz spine of the production: “Truth be told / you’ll rarely catch me in the hood / And that’s unless I’m working or making music, as you should.”
What Speak Easy decidedly lacks in lyrical swagger, he makes up for in unfiltered honesty, spitting couplets on growing up as a “nerd” in “Perspective,” reaching out to his significant other in “You & Me,” or paying tribute to his fallen mother in “Never Be The Same.” It should be noted that the latter contains a killer sample of The 5th Dimension’s “Ashes To Ashes” courtesy of Milwaukee’s own Trellmatic of AUTOMatic.
So To Speak truly buys local with Speak Easy, also calling on the likes of Streetz & Young Deuces for guest verses on “Lose Control,” and Frankie Flowers’ smooth flow on “Who Really Cares.” This album may lack the impenetrable cool of Gucci Mane, the brainy vocabulary of Q-Tip, or the crack-house tall tales of Ghostface Killah, but So To Speak’s what-you-see-is-what-you-get attitude and infectiously soulful production truly pulls Speak Easy into a realm of his own.