Madison hip-hop takes another step forward with the release of Tef Man’s Feel Good Music. Tef’s powerful and contemplated vocals are accompanied by excellent production and an array of local talent in this 16-track project.
This multi-faceted rapper has been heading up his own independent record label, Top of the Map Entertainment, since 2006. Since then he has been building up a regional reputation as a performer sharing stages with many legendary acts including T.I., Wale and Curren$y. The hype Tef Man brings to the stage is impossible to ignore. His widespread audience has even granted him opportunities to share the mic with artists such as Juicy J, Bizzy Bone and I-20 on the same record. Tef Man has been in the business for years now, but 2012 proved to be especially heavy. Last year major industry publications and blogs started to take notice and reach out.
The highly-anticipated Feel Good Music couldn’t have come at a better time for Tef Man’s career. Many hip-hop artists tend to sleep on their success a little too long, but Tef Man jumped right up and dropped a project in the first week of 2013. The amount of material that goes into a meaningful hip-hop album is incomparable to many other genres of music, and the 16 tracks of Feel Good Music are a testament to his personal work ethic at the very least.
From beginning to end, the album carries a classic hip-hop tempo with a spacey feel. In contrast to the harsh-sounding production found in the majority of popular hip-hop today, this album is a relief to the ears. Many artists in the industry make wild attempts to cover up their lack of substance by over-complicating the instrumentals and drowning out the vocals. The beats on Feel Good Music are very dynamic, but also drop out at the perfect moment. This allows Tef Man to show his true talent loud and clear and in the pocket.
Tef Man’s lyrical content is especially personal. Feel Good Music tells a story of pain and reveals the artist’s path from “the hood” to better things. Tef Man conveys his escape from violence, drugs and poverty on every track and encourages others from similar circumstances to do the same. Although this topic can be repetitive at times, each track angles it in a different and unique way.
Another major theme of the album is the struggle to establish hip-hop as a non-violent source of entertainment in Madison. In “Stop the Violence,” the chorus says “Stop the violence in the club / Yeah, yeah / We gotta separate / Find a way to protect this music.” Hip-hop in Madison is a fairly new development but it is also highly stigmatized. Popular venues such as the Brink Lounge, The Frequency, Majestic Theatre and High Noon have all instituted bans on local hip-hop shows because of fights and shootings allegedly stemming from the genre. This makes it extremely difficult for an up-and-coming rap artist like Tef Man to perform onstage in town.
Not only is Feel Good Music a great album, but it also conveys a positive message. Tef Man maintains his particular style throughout the entire project, while the production and features provide a nice change of perspective. Support local hip-hop and buy Tef Man’s album for $7 at tefman.bandcamp.com/.
4 out of 5 stars