Chattanooga hip-hop artist CD7 (the musical alias of Cadarius Harrison) doesn't mince words when it comes to his opinions on the lack of originality in modern music and the struggles that certain people face in their everyday lives. His work addresses the discrimination, frustration and anger that black citizens face on a daily basis, but also finds time to comment that this institutionalized prejudice is indicative of a larger systemic problem with how minorities are perceived in the mainstream. His beats seem to hit just a little bit harder and cut just a little bit deeper since they have these ideas as their motivation. His songs find some relief in brief flashes of light but aren't here to provide easy answers to the troubling questions they ask about our society.
On his new EP, "Carolina Blue," he carves out a darker perspective than you might expect and delves into some troubling social symptoms that seem to be plaguing our country. There's still plenty of braggadocio and swagger, but it's all in service to CD7's vicious perspective. Opening with "Long Way Intro," he dives into motivations and dreams, the things that push him to succeed and rise above. The beats are muscular, not paper-thin like so many others that occupy a good deal of his peers' tracks. And it's in his attention to detail and construction where his talent for vocal theatrics and musical calisthenics really shines through and gives him room to rearrange the extraordinary components of his work.
Songs such as "Deserve It" and "Villain" highlight both the regrets and ambitions that CD7 brings to his music. Piano lines and elastic synths provide a nice counterpoint to the sharp beats and barbed sentiments that he releases into this rhythmic ether. Working with a handful of producers—including AyoDLoBeats, Accent Beats, Richie Beats, Kasimgotjuice and a few others—he finds a good balance between working within their respective frameworks and developing his own lyrical identity. "Carolina Blue" is an expansive statement on the viability of aware hip-hop that still manages to create a groove-riddled landscape where these ideas and philosophies can mingle and play off one another in an endless cycle.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.