Published Mar 21, 2019As Maestro Fresh Wes's Symphony in Effect approaches its 30th anniversary, the Canadian living legend wants to remind you that he's still celebrating hip-hop with the release of his latest album, Champagne Campaign.
Kicking off with an interview snippet of Shad praising Maestro, the veteran MC quickly switches energies and immediately dives into the boom-bap "Drama," alongside Tona, who carries forth the hook and lays down a verse that matches Maestro's high level energy. By contrast, Maestro calls on Dusty Wallace to give a chopped-and-screwed meets alt-R&B vibe on "Waste Yute," which fits easily into the state of music in 2019, though conceptually preachy.
It's a theme that presents itself throughout Champagne Campaign — almost there, but not quite there. While songs like "You Don't Know Me" and "Renovation," both of which are rooted in funk and soul, feel full-bodied, much of the album feels like incomplete thoughts.
Saukrates, who's featured on three cuts ("You Don't Know Me," "Gravity" and "Renovation") becomes a key player on the album, while Maestro also taps another generation — Tona, Adam Bomb and Rich Kidd — to bring new energy to the album. By contrast, features from Sadat X and Planet Asia (with all due respect) feel like champagne bottles that have been kept in the light too long; barely bubbling and without excitement.
Despite attempts at the highs, Champagne Campaign also has low lows. Even with the late King Reign's introduction and Adam Bomb's aggressive-yet-fruitful delivery on "Somewhere Down the Line," it gets lost in dated production — a flaw also seen on "Minor Chords" and "Champagne Campaign." Likewise, despite its attempts at being a big sinister anthem, "Darker Than Blue" feels disjointed in both themes and sound.
Though it's no secret that Maestro Fresh Wes can still rap circles around the average rapper (and does it with such ferocity that he can rightfully spit a song like "Lennox Lewis"), unfortunately, what gets lost on Champagne Campaign is the fluidity of production and thought needed to assure that, in another ten years, the champagne will still be flowing. (Independent)