No waste: A titillating taste of big talent

Fel Sweetenberg: Lost Dreams, Wasted Talent

(SoulSpasm/Groove Attack records)

To make my point about the album under discussion, allow me to quote a bit from "Lost Children," the third track of Fel Sweetenberg's debut album:

"Let's talk about something: lost souls, lost days, demons and gem hunting. The Bible or the Koran, it doesn't matter, cousin. We'll fight amongst ourselves but won't fight for nothing unless it's drug related, cash, or stolen lovin,' fake thuggin,' hallucinating, druggin.' Escapism alters perceptions that have you buggin' and walking city circles out-loud cussin' and mumbling. Backdrops: abandoned buildings, cities crumbling. Hell is coming up from below. The ground is grumbling. World War III is at hand. Who are we trusting? Allies are pretending enemies. It's just disgusting. The money. The war on drugs is even funny. Big fry eliminate small fry. It's too cunning. There's darkness outside no matter if the sky's sunny. The wolves want the blood of the kids. They're still hungry. We are lost in the forest with no breadcrumbs to follow. Forces hover up above so I pray for tomorrow to make it out the maze, wake up out of the daze. Maybe walk away unscathed before the violin plays... or the angels sound their trumpets, the harpist stops her plucking... chaos and self-destruction, there's no assumption. It's written but somehow we all keep forgetting. We gotta look to the heavens cause we are the lost children... Now what's left when there ain't no God?"

That was enough to grab my attention and prompt me to start the album over from the beginning.

Fel Sweetenberg is not just an ordinary lyricist. His name alone provokes curiosity in the progressive music world. His album Lost Dreams, Wasted Talent, he wrote and produced himself. Where many emcee/producers have failed, Fel triumphs. He manages not to over-produce his songs for the sake of showing what he can do. This album is put together with patience and an understanding of what it takes to enter a world of hip-hop so vast and diverse that it's hard to make a name.

The album is more of an EP than a full-length. It features six songs and three remixes­ another nice move by a freshman artist. Just as I was really getting into what Sweetenberg was all about, the album was over. This prompted me to play it back and catch what I had missed on the first go round great strategy on the label's part.

The first song after the intro of the album, "Awful Pretty," is a display of Fel's razor-sharp microphone abilities. He tosses around words and images with reckless abandon in fits of stream-of-consciousness mind spasms. Like a person on anti-depressants who doesn't need them, he begins on one thought and takes you on a trip through his mind before he brings you back to the point. For the most part, the ride is interesting.

Tackling subjects as primal as animal attraction on "Lust" and heartbreak on "Time," Sweetenberg shows his diversity. What's most attractive about him is his honesty and down-to-earth attitude on the mic. The listener gets the feeling that Sweetenberg is putting everything he has into his craft. For that I can look past his semi-corny name and enjoy a stellar debut album.

Lost Dreams, Wasted Talent