- One of these days I'll stop judging books by their covers, but that day isn't going to be today. To be honest with you there's a pretty decent chance I'd never have stumbled upon Sydney MC Skryptcha if it wasn't for my formal radio duties and unnerving commitment to the betterment of society, but hell if I'm not actually pretty happy that I did. Second major crack of the whip, Mindful, see's the young rapper embracing his recent exploits outside his comfort zone, showing no fear and taking the world by storm. He hoofed it to Brooklyn for a period to flesh out the meat of the record, hooking up with the relatively unknown (to me) U.S. producer, Illmind, someone not unknown to Skryptcha who jumped at the chance to work with an underground gem with an old soul and a killer ear for beats. Apparently the partnership was fruitful enough for Illmind to handle 100% of the production, the mixing and arrangements on the record, the first time Skryptcha has entrusted just one human being to have influence over an entire body of work. In hindsight it was a good move, helping to give Mindful a real sense of identity, Illmind's production is the cement that keeps Skryptcha solid and forces the MC to bring it with his mouth and with his brain - there are no gimmicks here to hide behind - this is honest and real hip hop, a grown up record from a dude still actually growing up; it's good stuff, so much tighter than I expected. While Mindful is just that, a self-reflective and honest beast, it never gets too bogged down in its own thoughts, Illmind's sly hand behind the desks always gives the music this undeniably upbeat and optimistic twang throughout - Skryptcha delivering a mixture of real real-life and fictionalised real life - stepping in and out the modern day hip-hop storyteller mould, with his approach similar to Illy, Horrorshow or Atmosphere's eternal slugger, Slug - and it's a mould that fits him well. To Skryptcha's credit, he hasn't felt the need to overload the album with guests, bringing in a couple of ringers to smash out a handful of choruses. Apart from that only Obese label mates Illy and Spit Syndicate show up, and those like-minded guys aren't looking to steal Skryptcha's thunder, they're just out to lend a hand and increase the peace. There's not much not to like here and there's a track here called "I'm Good" that I've been really digging, just an understated little jam about enjoying life and not taking it for granted, helped along by the sweet, honey vox of Rachael Berry, combine that with Illmind's masterful throwback beat the whole kerfuffle comes out sounding golden.
- Jay Edwards.