Souleye’s latest full length release makes use of an assortment of featured collaborations, including one with his wife Alanis Morissette, but they aren’t just for show, dovetail nicely into the philosophy driving him as a performer and songwriter, and illustrate the sort of respect he commands within the hip-hop genre. Through it all, his talents remain front and center. His latest album ‘Wildman’ is an eleven song collection that likely contends for the most focused release of his long career. He carved out a durable niche for himself early on as one of the few credible hip hop performers who promoted positive messages that often displayed flashes of poetry and other instances of linguistic ingenuity. He’s blown out the borders of his appeal, however, and now deserves mention as one of the most serious artists working within the form today. His commitment to quality performances and songwriting remains every bit as strong as ever on ‘Wildman’ and there isn’t a single song that sounds like it’s straining for effect.
He marshals an impressive production around these songs that achieves real density without ever threatening to overwhelm listeners. The ultimately light touch of songs like “Dream Come True”, “Classic”, and “Follow Your Heart”, among others, is thanks to the meaningful vestiges of melody that are near constant cornerstones of Souleye’s musical art. The first of the aforementioned songs is probably the busiest and has a restless energy that keeps it shifting from the first. The true joy in that song is in how each of these changes merely segues into an equally compelling part. He’s really working at an inspired level and other songs on ‘Wildman’ as well. “Classic” features contributions from Chantal Kreviazuk and Chachillie – the presence of additional vocalists doesn’t distract attention from Souleye’s part and they end up providing stylistic differences that deepen the song’s value. “Follow Your Heart” is one of the album’s more overtly commercial tracks, but it’s notable how Souleye never has to play outside his personal beliefs and pander. He frames his talents in a certain way, plays to his natural strengths, and we end up with a gem like this. The melody is particularly notable on this release and the pay offs, both lyrically and musically, come with great satisfaction.
“Soul Expression” and “Fountains of Youth” occupy unique slots on ‘Wildman.’ The former lives up to its billing and ends up a first class emotive and slightly theatrical soul piece with top notch electronic percussion that gives it some much needed swing. Souleye’s lyrics are especially strong here. Alanis Morissette’s twin brother Wade guests on “Fountains of Youth” and there’s some similarities to the preceding track in how this song takes a groove oriented approach, though the same soul influences are not present in the performance. His collaboration with Wade’s sister and his wife, “Snow Angel”, comes off extraordinarily well and has enjoyed considerable exposure already. Those who have yet to hear it will appreciate its glittering beauty and the genuine chemistry that the two share even in a studio creation. ‘Wildman’ certainly does very little rampaging, but there’s no question that Souleye brings an impassioned spirit to his art and it comes across with each track included on the new album.