Harlan And Alondra (Album Review)

Jason Credle

The debut from the versatile Compton rapper offers an interesting perspective on life.

Rating: 7/10

The Compton rapper caught the ear of Pharrell about a decade ago, but now he’s ready to step into the limelight with his debut album, Harlan & Alondra. The album, which was named for the intersecting streets of his childhood home, proves to be well worth the wait.  Harlan & Alondra puts Buddy as a tour guide whose depiction of Los Angeles is as much influenced by the city’s rich political and musical history as it is his own personal experiences. Buddy uses the bulk of the 12-track project to tell his story of growing up in L.A., specifically, the crossroads of Harlan Avenue and Alondra Blvd, where he meets triumph and defeat as much as he does the general musical history of the West coast. Painting lyrical pictures through catchy melodies and smooth rhymes, Buddy carries a vision of his album forward that’s carefree in delivery, but wise in structure. We learn of his triumphs and his losses, his ambitions and his politics. (It takes less than three minutes for him to hurl his own “f*** Donald Trump.”) Blandness is present throughout Harlan & Alondra, and by default, drives it to become balanced both sonically and contextually. Where elements of G-funk are present, other elements of trap music arise, and when Buddy goes bar-for-bar in his delivery, he slows it down to stretch his singing vocals. In essence, Harlan & Alondra feels like an older album in the same way that Buddy gives the impression of rappers from the past, but when you add in modern-day energy, the album becomes very special.