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“Top of the World” from I Am Legend

Melodicism is becoming the cornerstone of the new rap movement, and this is deliberately made the centerpiece of the new single “Top of the World” from I Am Legend. Rather than stunting with a compelling rhythm in this performance, I Am Legend is going rather minimalist with the groove and choosing to focus all of his attention on the melodic subtext of the lyrics, which arguably express as much to the audience as any of the words do on their own. The mission in “Top of the World” is to get the most out of this hook, and from my perspective, that’s just what he does.

The smooth agility that I Am Legend has in this performance is definitely enough to get my attention, but what’s even more compelling than the speed with which he’s able to capture a lyrical narrative is the seamless manner in which he can join his words to the music beneath them. There’s a lot of lust in this beat, despite its minimalist role in the grander scheme of things, and there’s scarcely a moment in which we aren’t feeling the joint pulse of the rhythm and the verses at full strength – largely thanks to this tight mix.

I Am Legend hits the curves in this arrangement running, and I think there’s a good chance that he spent the better part of his time in the studio crafting the structure of this song to match the swagger he has when he’s cutting these lyrics for us. There’s no escaping the warmth of his presence in this performance, and yet I’m hesitant to call this a vocal-centric mix, partly because of how even everything feels beside the vocal. This is a player who knows music, and moreover, knows how to get something epic out of a relatively simple piece.

The strut this vocal has in front of the percussion is something to behold, but it’s not being overstated next to the instrumentation in the least. As noted by other critics when breaking down the music this artist has been recording this summer, there’s no ego getting in the way of his delivery, equally because of the lack of frills in this track and his straightforward execution style in general. Others could learn something from I Am Legend, and that’s obvious from the get-go in “Top of the World.”

I definitely want to hear I Am Legend collaborate with more players of his caliber in the future, and for what I was looking for in a summer hip-hop jam, I think this latest single is more than worthy of a second listen. It’s hard to cultivate an independent identity amidst all of the competition in this industry, but with the drive that we’re witnessing come into focus from the beginning of this track up until its conclusion, there’s enough here to suggest that the rapper at the helm of the mic has a lot of gas left in the tank – and he isn’t afraid to put some weight on the accelerator.

Mindy McCall

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