To know Android No.23 is not simply to JUST love Android No.23. To know Android No.23 is to be empowered by Android No.23, forever changed by Android No.23, and become more intentional through Android No.23’s shining examples.
Flashback one year ago to when Android was releasing his Adverse EP. At the time, his Sickle Cell disease had afflicted him so bad that he was in the hospital for what seemed like days on end. However, in the midst of the worst adversity, Android powered through, even producing while on his hospital bed and stuck by needles throughout his body. Through this experience came a viral picture gaining the attention of nationally acclaimed producers like Metro Boomin and Sango.
The empowering story was just ahead of his EP release, which Android would promote for months afterwards through memes, dialogue with his immediate community and even a complimentary music video for the lead single of the project “Fair Trade” featuring legendary 3SIDE phenomenon, Vlad.
Mixing and mastering my own personal newest single, I would pay Android No.23 and the Mild Sobriety studio a visit on the Friday that Avengers: Endgame premiered. We chopped it up professionally as colleagues and friends intentionally working towards re-branding a city image with our positions. Through our convos, I found out that due to an accident with a fence earlier in the year, Android No.23 severely messed up his leg and was not only confined to his room for months to heal, but became afflicted by his Sickle Cell ailment once again. It appeared as the young Baltimore creative was not only in a similar situation like last year, but in a worse position.
I communicated with him from time to time for three months, unaware that he was packing a Nuke bomb of a quality local project birthed directly from these conditions. Following Adverse EP, Android’s trials and tribulations, immense grind, and binging anime like One Piece for days, Room EP comes through the end of Summer 2019 establishing Android No.23 as a super player in Baltimore’s developing scene.
Alan Watts Intro (Prod.VNC3 & Android No.23):
“If you want to know what truth is, you must be open to truth, no matter what it is. If you say only that truth should be acceptable to you, maybe then you’re not healthy!”
The Alan Watts Intro prompted introspective and notably good existential questioning with the monologue sampled. The purpose of this track was setting the proper energy, however dark, ending with the anime-sampled dialogue that concluded with a “NANI?!?” slash, scream, baby cry, and a last lamenting word from a fallen character.
Patience (Prod. By BigMYNDS):
“And I’m blessed because I’ve seen 25 while I’m living in a city where too many niggas die for the flex. And the main divide is ‘Who gon ride?’ And ‘Who won’t slide?’ Too much pride, I’m way too stressed to sit around just being…patient.”
Patience continues on the melancholy energy of last track as Android lets the listener clearly feel his frustrations. His moaning before starting the track is reminiscent of a releasing war cry as he belts out the line “Make it out! Why the fuck are you waiting?”. This line is not only a message for the listener to push forward, but himself reflecting on his precarious situation from last year through current day. The superbly layered composition was something I expected from Android, but did not expect at the same time. For him to evolve in such a short time period from his last project makes me form the hypothesis that maybe his room was a hyperbolic time chamber. This long realization in a short time also made me realize that I super slept on Android No.23, and I swear to Kami that I didn’t originally intend for that thought to be a DBZ reference. Android’s bar structure, cadence and songwriting skills are top tier, and not just as an artist residing in Baltimore. With this project, he has shot up to my Top 5 from the city, even amongst the mainstream heavy hitters.
He’s able to storytell without a generic ass bar about perseverance and no “real Hip Hop” conservative vibes–just tight ass lyrics ABOUT his heart FROM the heart. That’s about as Hip Hop as you can get. Android doesn’t focus on super fancy punchlines but just talks to you, so eloquently in fact that it’s hard to quote a defining bar.
We Not Linkin (Prod. By Heisenberg and Android No.23):
“Broken heart, can’t say it with my chest.”
The lead single is a great example of how a lead, energetic single should also have equally fantastic placement in the context of a project.
“DROP MY. RAMEN. NOODLES. IN THE. SINK!!!!” as the opening bar has now become something I say both in public because of the splendid earworm quality and whenever the song comes on in my playlists. Android has become a class act by balancing the spectacular spewing of regular dude life experiences over once in a lifetime beats. The bridge to the second verse is the best local rap parlay that I have heard all year, fusing a 6-figure beat and 7-figure flow. It’s better to just kick back and recite rather than try and quote one standout bar from something so wonderfully cohesive on it’s own, and this is also a verse that might deserve a music video for itself. The instrumental is robotic and reminiscent of an anime-character’s theme song.
If anything else besides gifting us quality musical projects, Android should expand beyond his room for growth by scoring video games and other creative projects with his beautiful instrumentals. Ironically, this track is called “We Not Linkin'” but links the depressive mindset he experiences during that period to his cuttent growth mindset. With real nigga revelations–niggalations if you will– and revamping of his spirit in the midst of transition, “We Not Linkin'” also marks a shift in the energy of the EP.
Streams (Prod. By JPEG MAFIA & Goodness Godson):
“I’m in the hospital bed, thinking can I get myself some hospital head?”
“Streams” marks “good problems” of this project’s compositions and Android’s career projection as a whole. It’s an ascension point with a dream-like instrumental, even an elevation of voice, and if he’s genuinely depressed, this track sure doesn’t sound like it. This juxtaposition of content and feelings embedded into the composition lies my the fundamental issue of the project.
This song is produced alongside nationally/internationally acclaimed Baltimore musician JPEG MAFIA. With a uniquely enchanting anesthesia flow, Android talks about streams of society’s consciousness vs. his 26k on SoundCloud. Given all of this, great transitioning, and more, it’s evident that Android deserves better and needs it come next project. For this type of immense talent in one musician to be confined to one area, in addition to repeating its content from last project, is like a double-edged, almost insulting self-gesture to an individual deserving of much more exposure, recognition, sponsorship and more that artists need beyond the creativity. Adversity and patience birth legends, but they should not overstay their welcome and root the hero in their spaces longer than necessary.
Shambles! (Prod. By 3SUS Beats):
“Hurt the ones I love, I just pray that they forgive.
If cohesiveness is a skill that Android was going for with Room, something many rappers and musicians as a whole seem to neglect in this new musical generation, then he’s obviously got it. He knows how to make the same subject matter different describing the varying iterations of regret, anger, frustration and patience.
One of the bars contains an anime reference of Frieza but also cleverly references Captain Trafalgar D. Law of the highkey popular Shonen anime series One Piece. Law’s special power ability is directly referenced by the title and is a reflection of Android’s inspiration for the project.
“Shambles!” Is the most energetic track and contains the greatest depressive-rejecting energy of the whole project.
Always Believing (Prod. By Fonlon):
“I need salvation, I don’t want it from God. I crave the real because I don’t want the facade.”
“Always Believing” runs like a bonus track but nonetheless delivers a refreshing, alternative energy from typical rap songs of this era. Classifying “Always Believing” as merely experimental when the intentional dexterity and execution are this solid would be insulting. Another reason for my critique-thesis of “Streams” and the project as a whole is because “Always Believing” by sonic quality alone asserts itself as a track that needs to be performed for a live, raging crowd with its naturally amplified punk-rap energy.
I caught up with the young phenom a couple days before the project dropped to grill him behind the incredible making of the project.
MV: What were all your anime inspirations for your project? How influential was One Piece in particular, as I heard you mention it as a big source of inspiration a few times?
A.23: One Piece was the biggest inspiration for sure. I had already been working on the EP under a different working title, but once I finally got an understanding of Trafalgar Law’s Room Technique, I decided Room would be the perfect title. And it made more sense because I spent so much time in my room and it’s literal state was almost like the physical manifestation of what was going on inside of me. Everything was in shambles. Law can also use Shambles whenever he creates one of his rooms so I just felt like the title room was calling me. Plus I dropped a few anime references throughout the tape, I lowkey wanna give a prize to whoever can point them all out.
MV: I felt the entire theme of the project and its messages as harped on in detail throughout my review. Where do you want to go next in your career after your slam-dunk of quality?
A.23: This EP is just the beginning of something bigger. I plan on dropping my first album soon, but I don’t wanna make any promises just yet. I might wait until next year. But besides that, this EP brought about a new level of transparency and freedom for me. I wasn’t ashamed to say how I felt. I wasn’t even sad. I felt comfortable exploring that darkness and almost accepting of it, although it weighs heavy on my heart. I might be tired of going through it, but I’m not tired of writing about it; sometimes it’s the only thing that helps.
MV: What was your favorite beat to chop up on the project?
A.23: Question 3 is a tough one. “Patience” is the beat which I think sounded the coolest. Blew my mind when I got to soloing certain parts and really hearing what BigMYNDS put together. I was probably most excited though when I wrote “Shambles!” It felt pretty bad ass and I was really going through it bad that day, so the energy and morale boost I felt after writing it was amazing. 3sus Beats gave me a perfect beat for the moment with that one so big ups to him and there’s def[initely] gonna be more of that. “Streams” is interesting to me because I got that beat from Peggy years ago and I forgot about it, but one day I listened to it in the hospital and the words just flowed. I decided to call it “Streams”because it unlocked my stream of consciousness and I decided that I wasn’t gonna overthink anything on, that’s why it’s all over the place lyrically. I said some real ass shit, but I also said some goofy ass shit. But, I think I said my favorite bars on “Always Believing”. That’s also a beat I had forgotten about, but it just hit different in that mind state and the bars was flowing. Shout outs to my guy Fonlon, he’s a madman on the beats.
MV: Mild Sobriety is something else, in a good way. Not like name-dropping phases anyone high up in the industry, but how does it feel with you and your members collaborating with the likes of superstar Baltimore artists JPEG MAFIA and Butch Dawson?
A.23: Honestly what blows my mind more is the talent that those niggas put on display. The things they’ve accomplished. They’ve been colleagues for the longest and it’s so much love in this scene, so it’s like when they win you feel like you won too cuz we all cultivated something together that’s collectively special, while everyone as individuals is cultivating their own special contributions to the collective special-ness. It really just inspires niggas to go hard. 5 years ago they weren’t where they are now and 5 years ago I wasn’t where I am now. You just see the motion, the upwards movement, and you can only feel driven to go even harder.
Room EP is not only a quality project to be added to Android No.23’s impressively developing discography, but it also ushers in demanding nods from his inner self, community and the rap game itself that begs for his immense talent to go beyond adversity, a room, the seemingly infinite murky territory of true depression, and into the limelight that he truly deserves to bask in as both a person and monumental creative. However, what truly matters is Android’s own way of executing his timeline, coming face to face with his own dark places in order to tap into the bigger artistry skills that lay dormant like awakened Devil Fruit powers.