Do we ever have to give credit where credit is due? I mean, people say that all the time, but do they mean it or are they just covering up their own disappointment by trying to look cool? Don't get me wrong, I've said it myself, but I've felt grimy afterwards, some form of guilt making me regret uttering that dumb quote. It has an almost passive tone to it, nearly lazy in the placated notions it tries to instill. But on rare occasions, it's really meant as a form of applause, signifying that whatever it is you've witnessed may not be fully known to you, but is good enough to warrant an appreciation. That is how I felt with Storm Watkins album, Mercury.
Watkins comes from the instrumental hip-hop crowd, populated by better known acts like Star Slinger. It's sample based, with simple beats thrown over them for good measure. Most songs in this genre are fragmented so as not to cry copyright infringement, but some of the songs on this album feel a bit too whole to warrant calling them truly 'fragmented'. They don't suffer much from this correlation, but I often wondered if he couldn't have tried a less simple approach (I also hate seeing musicians sued by other musicians. Not that he is being sued, but musicians cry foul way too often when samples of their songs are used).
"My Everything" and "Quit Shuttin' Me Out" really signifies what Watkins can do with other people tunes. They're catchy and poppy, like the tunes he's sampling are, but are altered and structured in a better way than most artists like him try to be. Sampling R&B songs seems to be a staple in the hip-hop world, and it's a good thing Watkins stays within this trope because he shows what he can do when working alongside it. Sometimes the 'tried and true' method isn't a bad thing.
Others like "17" and "Sad Lexi" add to the strong showings on this album, working alongside previously made songs to create real numbers you can dance to. They all kind of have the same tone and feel to them, but if bands like Green Day have been given free passes in this department, Watkins should too. "By You" and "Love Reborn" feel sluggish and uninspired, and that's kind of hysterical seeing as, like I've mentioned a thousands times already, they're sample based. Sure, the blame is on him for choosing those songs to work with, but a small percentage of blame also has to go to the original artists for making what sounds like bad music in the first place.
Mercury is a pretty solid album, if not a little bit redundant. There are a bit too many dub-step horn samples sprinkled into the songs, and while some of the songs sound the same, they're varied enough and good enough to cut the album some slack. Watkins should stick to doing what he's doing here, because it's obvious he has talent, and will only get better with experience (Not that he isn't good right now, but, you know what I'm saying). And that's the credit I believe he's due. - Shane