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WPGM Recommends: Elton Aura – Vert(EGO) (Album Review)

The city of Chicago has consistently delivered a deep dish of musical talent since the early 1900s. With the city being the birthplace of artists like the misunderstood icon Kanye West and the first independent three-time Grammy Award-winner Chance the Rapper, a closer look at the city’s artistic ecosystem reveals acres of phenomenal, fully grown talent ready to be harvested for commercial consumption.

The ripe and ready rhymes of Elton Aura are a reminder of the overwhelming hunger and talent of independent artists who are stifled by the increasingly underwhelming, capitalist mainstream. The 21st-century artist is divided into those who treat music as a business and those who treat it as artistic expression.

Suppose you are lucky enough to possess creative expression that tugs at the heartstrings like Elton Aura. In that case, you too could be an artist who makes money through self-expression, which is a dizzying reality to fantasize about.

Vert(EGO) is Elton’s 9-track hip-hop offering stuffed with catchy melodies and subtle odes to urban Chicago blues. Elton is by no means a tear-jerking vocalist but employs sweet harmonies in this project, allowing his voice to reverberate and resound even in the idlest of minds.

I would identify Elton as a rapper, a manipulator of words, and a master of setting the mood. He pays attention to the beat on which his words land and allows the reverb to echo his sentiments and seriousness about fighting the music economy and its gatekeepers.

Elton shares a city with black activists like Common, Jamila Woods, and Mick Jenkins. He pumps his catalog full of pro-black rhetoric, which contributes to the contemporary culture in the music industry. Businesses that are black-owned and beautiful women with a dark skin tone are noticeable characteristics of his work, leaving little to the imagination of who he is and what he stands for.

Vert(EGO) has a little bit of everything for everybody, from bars about black oppression and depression to bouncy beats that provide a pocket of joy for upwards of 30 minutes. His words, “I could care less about being famous, long as I’m seeing these payments,” is one of the gems dropped on “Peachtree”, a funky neo-soul track about staying humble and grounded when people don’t are trying to profit off of your success.

In Vert(EGO), some of the songs use modulation to signal a change in the melody, which is really just an evolution of Elton’s train of thought as he makes sense of his purpose, his people, and his power as an artist and a realist.

In the track “Slow”, Elton says, “Life got better when I listen to my intuition, my ambition unconventional, in mint condition“. The plight of the independent artist forces them to be self-awareness and gritty, which is needed in a cutthroat industry.

Elton concludes that listening to his gut is the result of the excellent music that I and 100,000 other Spotify listeners have been glued to since the break-out release of his 2018 6-track EP, Elevated.

Replay value is the highest metric I use to decide if a project is excellent or not, and Vert(EGO) has a good replay value. I love five out of the nine songs and am willing to bet that hip-hop, trap, and lovers of soulful music will appreciate Elton’s confidence and conviction in every song.

Listen to Elton Aura’s Vert(EGO) below and stream it elsewhere here.

Words by Nonjabulo Malinga

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