Co-founder the Oldominion crew, a posse of hip-hop artists based out of the Pacific Northwest, MC Sleep has been representing Oregon’s dynamic rap scene over a decade. On his third LP Oregon Failure, the Portland emcee illustrates how, in spite of setbacks, being a resilient risk-taker has served him well in life. The 13 track-disc is a harmonic uplifting album, packed with substance. Featured emcees include Pigeon John, Ceschi, NyKwil, and others. The album is produced entirely by Maulskull, a Denver based producer whom Sleep befriended in his early days of touring.
The lead single “Sinking Ship” is a playful cut where Sleep showcases his command of cadence with a few dozen bars about how merciless self-criticism helped him crawl out of a dark place and find a renewed inspiration for life. On “Broke,” Sleep organizes his thoughts about the meaning of wealth over an uplifting piano line and soulful vocal backdrop. Wealth, he explains, should not be measured by the accumulation of material things, but rather by the strength of one’s family, community, and the ability to support the two with a job you love doing.
“Here Inside” is a moody banger about feeling undervalued and unappreciated, as much as just having to sort that all out behind the veneer of an easy going smile. The story of Oregon Failure would be incomplete without mention of the swaying, dreamy “Truth Serum,” in which Sleep and his pal Pigeon John combine to tell a hooky, chin-up story of being redeemed by love.
As it turns out, the album’s title aptly summarizes its theme of, “fall twice, rise thrice.” Sleep’s songwriting and rapping are a welcome return to a higher standard in rap music and Maulskull’s lush, modern sound is a natural pairing which begs further exploration. On Oregon Failure, the two have forged both a collection of individual tracks and a fun, heady, cohesive long-player.
Sleep may not have yet gained the esteem he so richly deserves, but on Oregon Failure, he reminds us that there is more than one way to measure success—and in doing so he succeeds wildly.
Oregon Failure drops April 15, 2014.