Discovering Six the Northstar’s new CD SixTrueMentals Vol. 2
by rick olivares
I am generally not interested in any record album that isn’t without a proper rhythm section. Especially the pseudo-jazz that passes for music today. That quote from the Jerry Maguire film resonates with me all the more (referring to John Coltrane and Miles Davis): “Two masters of freedom playing at a time before their art was corrupted by a zillion cocktail lounge performers.”
When I was given a copy of Six the Northstar’s “SixTrueMentals Vol. 2” a few days ago, I immediately saw the Akai MPC100 (music production center) in the back cover and noted that there are 16 tracks. It was the same feeling I got when I picked up Elvis Costello and the Attractions’ 1980 album, “Get Happy”, that contained 10 songs in each side of the record for a total of 20. The more tracks on a vinyl record, there was a fear in the loss of quality due to groove cramming. While this was a CD, it certainly wasn’t the concern about groove cramming. I thought, “I hope this isn’t filler drone material” and felt some trepidation.
This being the first time to hear Six’s music, I kept an open mind. And well… it isn’t so bad. In fact, I think I hit repeat several times over on some tracks as I couldn’t believe it was over that quick.
I love how Six infuses his beats with traces of soul, funk, jazz, and world music. They SixTrueMentals tease with morsels of Thievery Corporation-like tunes yet unlike the Washington DC-based outfit’s music that is strikes out into rich new territory because of its pastiche of cultures and sounds, Six the Northstar instead takes us back to those familiar places where we have fond memories. It’s like a signpost soundtrack. All the more evident when in the penultimate track, “Do It All Over Again,” Six traps in an infinite loop that timeless opening line to Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were”.
To wit, the opening track “That’s Right”, sings to me Diana Ross and the Supremes.
“End of the Honeymoon Stage” reminds me of Noel Gallagher’s flirtations with the Chemical brothers sound with his contributions to the X-Files soundtrack, “Teotihuacan”.
“Hey, have you ever tried” drips with that smoky, sultry sound of Philadelphia in the 1970s.
“I Know You’ve Been Hurt” brings to life the Ivory Queen of Soul.
Jafar in Jasmine’s Clothing, perhaps Six’s ode to the Disney animated film, Alladin, is mysterious.
“Fist in the Face of Darkness” recalls the sinister feel of Coolio’s “Gangster’s Paradise”.
“Stars in My Eyes” sounds like a lost Stylistics track.
And it goes on. I guess that’s the beauty of this album - Six knows his roots. He takes you back and yet, forward. It forces you to reach out and expand your horizons. While I will always swear by a full rhythm section and not a machine that samples music, SixTrueMentals Vol. 2 does get me to appreciate modern music making methods. Furthermore, his music does what it is supposed to do. And that’s groove, swoon, think, take you to places, and well, enjoy what you’re listening.
About Six the Northstar:
Released on February 14 2017, SixTrueMentals Vol 2. is Six the Northstar’s latest release which is the ninth album put out by Six in his current body of work. As both a MC and Producer, VOL 2 represents a collection of his recent work an instrumental beat producer and is a follow up to his album SixTrueMentals Vol. 1 released in January 1 2016. Vol. 2 is his first solo release that was fully produced under the auspices of independent music label FUTURESTUDIO.
Mainly produced through Six’s MPC1000, Vol. 2 is an assembly of a multitude of sounds and samples taken from old records tastefully selected, chopped, and masterfully manipulated by Six. Through the entirety of Vol 2. a listener will hear Six’s tastes shine through; a mix of soul, jazz, and funk, armed with a fresh hip-hop beat.
In his career as a musician Six has worked with several groups such as A.M.P.O.N., Archon Akeenz, MDK, New Cocoon and most recently as one third of the hip hop group Shadow Moses. He has also lent his vocal chops as features on other artists’ projects with more collaborations as both a MC and Producer coming up soon.
SixTrueMentals Vol. 2 can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, and has physical copies available at The Appraisery and The Four Strings at Cubao Expo. Album art of Vol. 2 was created by artist Lari Gazmen.