Mixtape Chronicles, Vol. 2: Follow My Lead

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On Follow My Lead, his second mixtape presented by Cut Entertainment, Stimuli continues to rattle off his street-rugged yet impressively literate rhymes over productions that are generally par for the course yet sometimes highlights in and of themselves. There's no question that the Brooklyn rapper is verbally gifted. He can invent elaborate raps and rhyming schemes on the spot, and he can fire them off with the precision of a heartless sniper. There's no question of that. It's more a question of how well Stimuli can funnel his MCing into the context of a mixtape, and the answer to that question, as illustrated throughout Follow My Lead, is very well -- as in, this is a kickass mixtape. He spits fire yet does so in thematic processions, and each of the tracks blends smoothly into the next, giving the entire mixtape a nice, seamless flow. As noted, most of the productions are par for the course -- what you'd generally expect from a street-level mixtape, that is, commendably crafted yet a bit too lo-fi to be straight-up banging. There are some exceptions, and those exceptional productions are indeed highlights, namely "Stop What You Doin'" (a Tigerstyle production that plays on the rhythms of Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby" and Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean" -- and simultaneously at that! -- without sounding at all gimmicky), "Everything's a Go" (a Just Blaze instrumental), "All My Life" (a Bink instrumental), "Who Am I?" (a Heatmakerz instrumental), "Let's Ride" (a Key-Jana production with some big-sounding -- if just a bit too backgrounded -- strings), "Break It Down" (a sorrowful Double O) production with a nice sample loop à la Kanye West, and "Sundon'tshine" (a powerful, cinematic finale by Double O). An eight-minute interview with DJ Eclipse of 89.1 FM (the station at NYU) is appended as a bonus track. It's a nice addition for those curious about Stimuli the person in contrast to Stimuli the MC. He doesn't give an especially appealing interview, but his modesty and polite demeanor are mighty refreshing. Such behavior affirms the notion that this guy is the real deal (i.e., talented and passionate), not just another would-be rapper who knows someone who knows someone.

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