Heavy is the Head is Tropidelic’s third full length release and their first for Pepper-owned LAW records. The six-piece band from Cleveland, Ohio draw influences from a wide ranging and eclectic variety of genres, mixing Reggae, Hip-Hop and Funk with some Heavy Metal guitar riffs thrown in for good measure.
Front man Matthew Roads describes the album’s title as “A direct reflection of the sacrifices, struggle and pain endured en route to the top, or when you reach the top of whatever it is you’re after.”
I went into this album blindly, never having listened to much of Tropidelic’s past output, and I can say that I’m happy that I did. Drawing inspiration from so many different genres, you never know what direction Tropidelic will take next. They go from the up-tempo “Hey Now” featuring fast smooth Hip-Hop vocals layered with horns and heavy guitar in the chorus, straight into the slower, more delicate “Highs and Lows.” With its positive outlook and endearing lyrics driven by the upbeat horn section and orchestral strings, “Highs and Lows” is a definite high-point on the album.
Lyrically, Tropidelic covers themes from resisting the money hungry people in charge in “Dollar Served” with a scathing lightning-fast rap to close out the song, to that one girl (or guy) that we’ve all seen at the show who doesn’t know when enough is enough in “Festival Girl.” “Offer it Up” features a superb group of background singers giving the song somewhat of a gospel feel and the guitar solo bridging the final couple of choruses is well executed and well placed. In a comparison I never thought I’d make, the song is reminiscent of the material on Rap-Rock group Kottonmouth Kings 2011 reggae influenced albumSunrise Sessions.
“The Recipe” is a song you’ve heard before, just not with these lyrics. The walking bass line and finger snapping is a rip from Little Willie John’s 1956 song “Fever,” a song that has been covered by everyone from Elvis Presley to Beyonce. The song first gained popularity after American Singer Peggy Lee released her rendition in 1958.
“Church” immediately ups the tempo and brings the funk, while “Loraine Loraine” sounds like Tropidelic spent a lot of time listening to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Pet Sounds. Another song that features an orchestral string section and the song shifts tempo throughout providing the listener with an enjoyable and diverse experience.
Overall, Heavy is the Head Is a solid album destined for multiple future listens that seamlessly blends up-tempo, guitar driven funk vibes with skillful raps and enough laid back, chill songs with positive messages to soundtrack your summer beach days.