Floridian and 2012 Freshmen Candidate, Laws, is an emcee who is conspicuously sincere and genuine. Unfortunately, this seems to be a gradually decreasing group in hip hop. With his fairly unique flow, insightful lyrics, and reasonable audacity, the “sarcastic Brazilian bastard” brings something new to the table, exhibiting a sizeable amount of talent. Vocally, he’s comparable to Talib Kweli, and so his intonation and approach may take a little getting used to. However, in the words of Laws himself, “making any comparisons is weak.” See him as himself, and no one else.
5:01 (Overtime) is an engaging, extended re-release of Laws’ 4:57PM mixtape. Laws points out on an interlude that 4:57PM was the time he would leave from work back in the day, which really wasn’t too long ago at all. Additionally, Laws states that on 4:57, he was quite unsure of himself and where he was going in life, but now that he’s more poised, he feels he should “finish up what [he’d] started.” This shows his loyalty to his fans, and his dedication to making music, if nothing else. The album features various other up-and-coming artists, such as Emilio Rojas and Big KRIT, as well as Funkghost, Jay Rock, and Mason Caine, among others.
Production comes from none other than the Grammy award winning trio J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, along with 9th Wonder, M-Phazes, and others. Just hearing the names, you can foresee this line-up delivering. Most beats make use of the stellar synths that we’re so accustomed to hearing from Laws’ past releases. Let it be clear, however, that not all of them were created solely for Laws.
Lyrically, it’s evident that complexity is lacking, but Laws competently makes up for it with his poise, sometimes bringing up and boasting about being the first lyrical MC of Brazilian-American upbringing. Fortunately, he doesn’t go over the top, and even pays his respects to Big Pun, the first Latino rapper to go platinum (on “Overtime” for instance.)
He raises a few pragmatic ideas throughout, relating to concepts like social class, along with a few religious references on “Believer,” but frankly, some of these ideas get drowned out because of the mediocre chorus, just as other great tracks get blurred out by less lyrically imposing, prosaic tracks. However catchy they may be, they unfortunately take away from the overall tone of the album. “Hold You Down (Remix)” was a standout track. Rojas and KRIT kill their respective verses, with Laws on the chorus, as well as spitting what could arguably be the best verse of the album. He makes an interesting allusion to the different elements of hip hop in the lines “I’mma snap and get up in some four element shit/Break you off while you dance/Scratch your face up, tag your place up/Wrap you from the waist up.” Another great track is “Shining,” which, having been produced by 9th Wonder, incorporates violin/alto sax samples.
“Five seconds from fame, a minute from legendary”
All in all, do not sleep on this if you’re in search of a fast-rising talent. That is, if you’re willing to gamble. Laws will either reel you in upon first listen, or will take some getting used to. My favorite tracks on the album were Shining, Runaway, and Hold You Down