Hailing from the decidedly unglamorous city of Lawton, Dewey Binns is the sort of blue-collar rapper everyone can get behind, but hes just as book-smart as street-smart, as evidenced by this Steinbeck-esque collection of hip-hop vignettes.
One gets the feeling that Binns rarely was satisfied with his first word choice, refining each line with the fine-toothed comb of some OCD-riddled book editor. Off-the-cuff has its place, but the type of stories Binns tells via hip-hop (Diggin Royalties, Homeless Love) requires more than that, and he works as hard at being an author as songwriter.
Thats not to say this isnt a fun record to listen to, because it is. Study in tempo Charles Barkley moves much like the Sir Charles did in his later years, slowly bopping down the court into a temporary burst of energy and subsequent total stop. The soulful opening pair of Charmed Life and Writers Never Die sound pulled right out of the genres 90s-era prime, sharing the best traits (smart, but easy to consume) of Tupac or Dr. Dre.
Binns does a little bit of everything, from upbeat party tracks (Celebration) to restrained, contemplative efforts (Travel Miles) all done the right way.