Who TF is Langston Bristol and Why Should You Care?
'M-Side Odyssey 2'
Evan Dale // Feb 16, 2021
Three reasons: one project, two volumes, and a whole lot more timelessly unique hip-hop, R&B, and grey area offerings. Most recently, the young Detroit-area emcee gifted those searching for a new take on the old-school with a mixtape invoking the art-school, M-Side Odyssey 2. But in more detail, he’s been releasing projects since 2018 with his first iteration of M-Side Odyssey, and has been making music since he was a child. The diversity in his early years with music speaks directly to the breadth of his sound now. First came the instruments – drums, piano, and eventually guitar – that inspired an affinity for the jazz-timing and changes of pace that stamp such a signature on his modern Motown aesthetic. Then came the choir, where his obvious curiosity of infusing his music with melody came to fruition. And eventually, at 14, came rap. Today, producing, writing, rapping, singing, and releasing the breadth of his creativity in house, Langston Bristol is a blueprint for the self-realizing underground artist whose fervently refined sound is continuing to break the barriers of what can be expected from a young transcendent artist – expected from hip-hop and R&B at large.
Firstly, though vibrantly experimental and way-paving in his own sound, there is something that defies the too clean, try-hard-to-be-different nature of rap modernity in each and every of his tracks. He sounds youthful without sounding young. And that something ultimately boils down to one hard-hitting, timeless adjective: raw. Somewhere between his voice, his fluid cadence, and the way he produces it all together, Langston Bristol’s hip-hop brings to mind any number of old-school nuanced, quirky greats through the epochs whose raw sound resonated with the street corner cypher and inspired the radio to change its formulaic choices. With his flow unpredictable and one-of-a-kind; his voice holding a pitched twang in verse and a cooling breeze in song; his subject matter painting vivid landscapes of his own experiences, relatable literally or at least through the emotional scope he pulls into focus; Langston Bristol can do it all without sounding quite like anyone but his raw, honest self, bridging hip-hop’s past to its present with a grace that attracts an audience spanning the mixtape old heads to the SoundCloud wave. He’s a representation of the new era’s weed rap and art-school fluttery merging lanes with the timelessness of his undeniably midwestern and ultimately retro tenets. He’s a mosaic whose myriad soundscapes all sound true to his own overarching underline. And all of it is on display with M-Side Odyssey 2.
The mixtape is his fifth project in four years, and though all of them – M-Side Odyssey 1 & 2, And So It Begins…, YOOF, and COLORS – exude wide-ranging creative confidence, all are subsequently tethered akin as broad strokes exhibitions of Langston Bristol’s immense and established range. M-Side Odyssey 2, too, falls in line with that line of description. From beginning to end, the 8-track, 20-minute tape utilizes the relatively short cut of its track length to construct a cohesive puzzle of stylistic experiences for he and his audience. And beyond that, each and every track on the project, though mostly hovering just above the two-minute mark, shines with Bristol’s knack at molding a curious, broad composition, stretching time and making short mixtape tracks feel long, complex, and incredibly thought-out without at all feeling overthought. There isn’t a chapter in M-Side Odyssey 2 that doesn’t at least hold Langston Bristol under two or three banners: that of a lyrically poetic rapper with jarring control of his flow and a unique vivacity at storytelling; that of a unique vocalist whose song evokes a broad swath of emotion; that of a uniquely mellow instrumentalist and producer whose beats feel simple and invoke a late 90’s East Coast foundation, but truthfully gleam with a layered mastery that few modern transcendentalists can boast.
For its part, M-Side Odyssey 2 plays best when played all the way through, and is undeniably Langston Bristol’s most cohesive, focused collection to date. Nearly every track – with the possible, upbeat exceptions of the quirky and fun-loving Press Play and the 90’s hip-hop reminiscent PSA (both of which still definitely fit the vibe of the project at large) – M-Side Odyssey 2 rides the mark of an understated, mellow, timeless, and raw grey area of old-school hip-hop merging with new-school and artful transcendentalism. And all of it – with the exception of redveil’s verse on PSA – comes directly from the mind of the Michigan creative alone.
From start to finish, whether a fan of the old-school or the new; whether a fan of hip-hop or R&B; whether a fan of the upbeat and lyrical or the slow-moving and melodic; the mixtape is a fluid exploration of the range of an artist whose sound knows no stylistic or epochal boundaries and therefore knows no one who doesn’t find something(s) to love about it all. So, who TF is Langston Bristol? There’s no better way to find out than listening to M-Side Odyssey 2.