A-Slim – The Progression [Mixtape Review]

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You may remember our Lace the Beat contest winner Austin “A-Slim” Monahan, who tore up our contributory Teddy Roxpin beat like it was child’s play. In March he dropped his debut mini-project Consistent, only to quickly follow up with his latest mixtape The Progression on September 24th. After spending a summer in the lab concocting new tricks up his sleeve, the St. Paul stunner has done more than simply make “progress”. He’s laying down tangible groundwork for his distinct style, comprised of a reckless flow and wittier wordplay than ever before.

The Progression, which is independently released, is definitely a step up from A-Slim’s debut tape. Standing at twice the length, it packs a revamped Lace the Beat track, some freeverses, and a spectrum ranging from hard knocking self-embellishment to sweet romanticism. Leaving no room to spare for doubt, A-Slim opens the tape with the title track “The Progression.” Lines like these show he’s making moves:

About to roll medication/
You know that I’m ground breakin/
Tectonic plate separation/
Aint talking about earth quakin/
I’m talking about game changin/
I think I’m on a roll, shit, you know I keep it rolled/
Bitch, I’m hotter than a stove

After the opener, which briefly acknowledges his past work on Consistent, A-Slim leaves all his negativity and hardship in the past and moves forward. On tracks that dive into aspirations for glory and lucrativeness, his flow is unstoppable. This shines through tracks like “C.M.C”, “Paper Chasin” and “I’m Gon Shine”. Confidently moving up in the game and “bringing his whole team with him”, he doesn’t want to be taken lightly. Lyrically, there might not be a track that bumps harder than “Passin Em Up”:

I don’t understand it, why you not in a panic/
You don’t know what I’m planning/
With these pro tools, man, I’m a mechanic/
Flow is volcanic, man I flow like Atlantic

But A-Slim isn’t one-dimensional. Several tracks throughout the tape have a softer touch. “How I Feel” is a bittersweet reflection on a bad relationship, leading to his decision to end it and move on. His best sentimental track is “Take My Time,” supported by female vocalist Vashti Jade. Vashti’s sexy hook sets him up for a smooth verse that, unlike the former track, portrays a girl who beckons his heart’s desire. If I were A-Slim, I would strive to make more tracks like this one.

The Progression is certainly progress but by no means should anyone be satisfied. A-Slim has proven consistently that he can handle his own lyrically. That’s actually an understatement. His flow is murderous, his diction is noticeably more polished, and he has developed ease for imagery. But it’s time to mix up the content. After 2 tapes, we all know A-Slim is going for gold, that he loves his women and his ganja, but that will not propel him forever. Luckily for him he has the backing of talented producers and MCs from the Twin Cities, which he merited. Minneapolis local star Yung Truth has appeared on both of his full-length releases, and Grizzlybeatz and Pro Beatz were among several producers that helped make his The Progression stand out. With their help moving forward, his goal should be to diversify. This was a crucially improved mixtape overall.

Keep grindin, A-Slim.

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