Besides the insane amount of other projects Luke Sick manages to keep releasing all the time*, On Tilt – his partnership with QM of The Rec League – has managed to put out an album a year for the past five years. And here it is for 2021, the fifth album, fittingly titled The 5th Album, which is also a reference to a fifth of alcohol, because of course it is. But if that sounds dismissive or nonchalant in any way, then you guys haven’t figured out how impressed I am with these guys’ talents yet.
The 5th Album sets itself apart right away. Entirely produced by San Francisco MC/ producer Bank Notes, a.k.a. Wordsmiff, this entire album has a single, distinct tone. No upbeat song followed by a posse cut, followed by a moody and depressing track… this is all going for a smooth, laid back west coast chill vibe. Like classic 2nd II None, but a little more mellow. They even attempt singing on the hook of “The Remedy,” but they make it work with their fierce dedication to the ambiance. That can be a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, if that’s what you’re after, this is the perfect tape to put you in that mood and keep you there. On the other hand, if you’re looking for more bounce or something aggressive, it can put you right off. In other words, unlike the previous albums, you have to be ready to meet it half way. But if it happens to be up your alley, or it just catches you at the right time of day, it could be your favorite yet.
I’m a bit split on whether it’s my favorite yet… but maybe. I’m absolutely enjoying it and fully appreciate what they’re going for, with each listen better than the last. It’s the most consistent, and yeah it’s low-key, but it’s not exactly chopped and screwed music, which I admit I don’t really have the patience for. “Drank Season” is the ideal opener to signal where we’re headed, “drunk ass youngins in the bars with an open nose, keep bumpin’ broke blow thinkin’ that they’re Romeos. Every night drankin’, flossin’ in a Beamer. Suckers to the side, I’m comin’ through with the motherfuckin’ Seagrams, and player QM rollin’ with a cold 12. Ain’t nobody drankin’ if the fade ain’t flowin’ well. Sellin’ solo K cups, two for five, but snobs actin’ like they’re way too good for the Coors Light. If you don’t like it, you can hit the sto’ and come back; and while you’re there get the Rossi and the blunt wraps. People gettin’ pushed in the pool with their clothes on. Pour a shot and kill it, now you’re really in the drank zone. We see the sun and we get drunk, no other reason. It’s summertime, but On Tilt call it drank season. In one hand, the other hand holdin’ dank (true!). It ain’t a thing, I ain’t goin’ in to work today. I see the sun, and we get drunk, no other reason. It’s summertime, but On Tilt call it drank season.” Luke and QM have the perfect personalities to capture this elusive attitude, and the album’s chock full of cool out, creative samples to match.
“Beer With My Friends” is super funky but still slow and easy, featuring the album’s only guest MC, Gurp City regular TOPR, who’s a little gruffer, which acts as the song’s perfect seasoning. “Just Think” is a slick corruption of The Roots‘ “Proceed.” The 5th‘s sole weakness is that the low energy can get a little sleepy by the time you’re halfway through, even when songs like “Life On Tilt” or “Relax” would still be a highlight on any other tape. Fortunately, DJ Traps drops by for a really tight (though still fitting with the overall mood) DJ cut to shake you up in the final third. And it ends with a really strong closer, “We All Gotta Go,” featuring one of QM’s best verses and a choice Nas/ AZ vocal sample.
This is another limited edition, joint venture pro-dubbed cassette between Megakut and I had An Accident Records, but it’s a bit challenging to figure out just how limited. Megakut lists it as limited to 60, I had An Accident lists 90, and QM’s personal bandcamp presents a second pressing of 30. Does that mean there were originally 60, then a second run of 30, for a total of 90? Or Megakut was allotted 60 and IHaA got 90 for a total of 150, followed by 30 more, bringing us to 180? Is there a fourth listing somewhere else I haven’t found with another number? Who knows, but however you cut it, these are very small numbers. So if you’re interested, you’d better act fast. As of this writing, all three listings were down to their last 2-4 copies. So don’t fuck around. If you miss this one, you’ll wind up regretting it.
*Recent months have also yielded the latest Grand Invincible LP and a collaborative instrumental double album, Snake Mountain Crew, with two accompanying vinyl singles.