Review: Blaqstarr – The Mixtape

After The Divine comes The Mixtape, Blaqstarr’s follow-up to the transcendent EP released earlier this year. At 25 tracks and just over an hour, the singularly titled mixtape is a definitive look at Blaq’s past, present and future.

Classic collaborations, like “Get Off” with Diplo and “Tween Me and You” with Nadastrom, are reminders of how far Blaqstarr’s sound has come. Compare those with ones with Steve Aoki (the nu-disco “Control Freak”), (the wavering, La Bouche-referencing “Meet Me Halfway”), and Akon (the auto-tuned ballad “Teardrop Shorty”). Gone are the Baltimore club beats; these new tracks are four-on-the-floor crowd pleasers, not the slick and sexy songs he built his name on.

But for fans of Blaqstarr’s old school material, not all is lost. His team-up with DJ Excel, “Rain Came Into My House,” is pure Bmore swagger. “Handstand,” with production by Switch and VIIXIIV (aka Sugu Arulpragasam, M.I.A.’s younger brother), is raw and sludgy. And one of the tape’s finest moments is a remix of the gunshot banger “Tote It,” featuring Lil Wayne (which has been floating around as “Told Y’all” for a while).

In an ironic turn, Blaqstarr teams up with the members of Black Star. “War of Roses” features Talib Kweli, and sounds like Steppenwolf with a club beat, and the moody, hip-hop infused “Kiss Me On My Lips” with Mos Def would fit in on The Divine.

Blaqstarr is a man stuck multiple worlds: the club sounds of his Baltimore home, the shimmering dance music of his LA residence, and the future funk of his boundless imagination all loom large in his work. The Mixtape, while straining under these pressures, does an admirable job of finding the common thread between varied genres and lets Blaqstarr shine.

Download: Blaqstarr – The Mixtape

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