July 1st saw the debut release of Swade’s Alumni album. The Strt Trbl artist has littered many songs on his Soundcloud that range from trap to boom bap and back again. This latest offering is something unique and an amazing experience for the listener and with that, let’s gets into Alumni, possibly the best album of the summer so far.
The Polk County Florida native wastes no time or bars on the opening title track “Alumni” coming out of the gate with some hard hitting bars and aggression. Swade has been known to have some bars you can feel such as “when the first thing on your mind when you wake is getting the grands/ you ain’t never talk much to Pops but well acquainted with Uncle Sam” you can see the skill is evident. This time around Swade is hungry for success and willing to work hard at it “this the last year I’m choosing gas or the dinner plate/sick of being broke a youngin’ had to hit the interstate. Swade is known to straddle the ratchet side of things as well as the conscious and to describe what that looks like he says “Think if Langston Hughes and Trina made love.” Amazing pictures painted on this opening track closed out by singing from a familiar voice with an unfamiliar name, Xavier Omar formerly known as SPZRKT. Track number two “25 Lighters” is an ode to “25 Lighters on my dresser” and speaks on Swade reaching for success. Twenty five lighters and he’s trying to figure out which one will blow, which speaks to which of his talents will get him to where he wants to be while keeping his soul at the same time. Swade refuses to use his talents to sell out and get rich but lose himself in the process.
Swade shows off his song writing skill on the song “Sundown” with an amazing hook, which speaks on grinding from sundown to sundown, a clever way of saying he grinds all day. Rappers always make songs about grinding to the point where it can become cliché and corny, but Swade makes you believe him. Also his flow pattern is quite different on the first part of the first verse, which makes it stand out all the more. The project then moves into the “Balcony Freestyle” and Swade spits 32 bars, the first sixteen without drums and the last sixteen with drums. I personally love when artists have one record where they take a dope beat and just spit as many bars as their hearts desire. This track has replay value and you can find yourself stuck just listening to Swade wreck this beat. Next on the project is “Nowhere to Go” chronicling the struggle we all go through, when life doesn’t go the way we plan. This song debunks the American Dream and Swade knows it’s all up to God where he ends up, so he’s decided to just follow his dreams.
Next we find Swade having fun flexing on “Cassius” a head nod to the Greatest Boxer of all time. This track exudes confidence in his skills and his destiny. The album takes an interesting turn on “Cali Dream” where we find Swade serenading his special lady. Swade doesn’t strike me as the overly romantic type but he has a knack for penning songs in this vein (Check out Ain’t Gon’ Lie on his Soundcloud.) This woman of his is so good she must be a dream that he doesn’t want to wake up from. The following song “Highway 27” is a song for anyone who is trying to get home that’s been gone too long. This song takes us with Swade through his town and his life, sometimes on the road to success you have to come back home. The beat switches up near the end of the song and Swade switches up accordingly and mentions Hotep Black Twitter for the win.
In my personal favorite song “Grandeur” we find Swade talking about following God and pursuing success. The hook has Swade saying he just wants to be great and he asks “Lord help me get out my way.” The second verse has some of his realest bars on the project: “ I been doubting my place in life doubting my views/ never doubted in Jesus, but I been doubting the pews/ and that don’t mean that I’m leaving, it’s just we got to improve/ when people come here for healing then they leave with a bruise.” The Polk County native then goes on to say how he has moved to Chicago to try and make his music dreams a reality. The album closes out with “Alive” the single for the album and Swade uses this song as a declaration to say he is alive even in the face of opposition. In the fight of life quitting is not an option, and Swade has crafted something for you to fight to, a chant of sorts to fight the lies and stay alive.
Swade has never been much of a theologian in his songs. He just speaks from his heart and his life and creates great music out of his experiences. This album seems to be a freeing project for him, where he can be his authentic self and speak from his heart. It is worth mentioning that Swade gets a little loose with the “N word” on most of this project, whether you think that is a good or bad thing is up to you. For me, I have no qualms with it, but I know that it is not everyone’s cup of tea. This album seems to be about success and Swade mentions making money quite a bit on this album, which may seem off putting to some. However, what do you expect from a 24 year old recent college graduate trying to chase his dream? In a recent interview, Swade stated he has tried to get a normal job using his degree and it just wasn’t panning out, so he’s following his passion of music wherever it takes him. The album is called Alumni because this is his first body of work he’s crafted since graduating college and it’s a double entendre as well. This album is for anyone who is in a transition period in their life (i.e. college to the “real world”). This is an album that I believe many young adults can relate to because you’ll see a struggle to succeed, love, and ultimately faith and hope in God, plus you’ll get many bars that will give you the scrunched up face. Swade made a conscious point to switch up his delivery on almost every song and come with a soulful sound to create a strong body of work from his heart and soul. Do your ears a favor and get on that Alumni.