“Harlan & Alondra” is Buddy’s debut album. The Compton-bred MC released the album on July 20th, 2018.
West Coast Credentials
It’s one thing to be from California, but it’s another thing entirely to be from Compton. Compton is a hip-hop Mecca and as such descendants of the holy land must pay homage.
So the opening track, “Real Life S**t”, dabbles in that classic g-funk sound. The second track has a little of that same feel. And then the album goes modern with guest appearances by A$AP Ferg and Ty Dolla $ign.
Those all-too-familiar trap drums make an appearance and I began to wonder if the album was going to be like the third track, “Black.” That track features Ferg and is very close to being a great tune. Unfortunately it occasionally loses focus and neither Buddy nor Ferg are able to rescue the song with clever wordplay.
Was “Harlan & Alondra” destined to be a so-so album with the occasional dash of greatness? Through the first 4 tracks it felt like the album might be a standard mix of classic West Coast hip-hop and the new, palatable trap sound. In other words, a solid meh.
“Harlan & Alondra”, however, avoids this fate. The album is funky, but it’s not quite g-funk. Maybe it’s a funk closer to what Childish Gambino has been doing or what Vince Staples did on “Big Fish Theory.” Maybe it’s a blend of those two. At any rate it doesn’t sound like a series of “throwback” songs interlaced with trap beats nor does it forget its past.
On “The Blue” we get the best of both worlds: Buddy soul-singing and rapping alongside West Coast hip-hop legend Snoop Dogg. That’s all the credentials you really need.
About that funk
“Trouble on Central” is a killer track. Buddy references Central Avenue, Lauryn Hill and the Blue Line (that’s two references for LA and one for hip-hop). Plus the whole song feels like a bit of a reference to Skee-lo’s “I Wish.”
From that track until “Trippin”, the album has no duds. “Speechless” (might remind you a little bit of this?) and “Young” (which interpolates an Outkast tune) don’t have the greatest content, but they bop nonetheless.
The only song on the second half that I didn’t love was “Find Me 2.” It’s not a bad track, it’s just had a different energy from the rest of the second half of the album.
“Harlan & Alondra”
I only listened to this album because Buddy is from Compton. I didn’t know that he used to be signed to Star Trak or that “Harlan & Alondra” was his debut album. To borrow (and change) a line from “The Blue”, “I wasn’t looking for a great album, but I found you.”
Anyway, “Harlan & Alondra” was a very pleasant surprise. The album manages to reference classic funk and West Coast hip-hop while sounding modern and relatively original. That makes it an album that is good enough for multiple listens.