Still Not Heartless is the first mixtape released by Staten Island artist/Youtube personality, Eric D'Alessandro.
For those subscribed to Eric's Youtube channel, ERIX FLIX, you have seen him make the slow evolution from funny shorts and skits, to hysterical hip-hop parodies, and now serious rap songs infused with pop hooks reminiscent of Drake or a Timberlake/T.I. mash-up.
With that being said, Still Not Heartless captures everything a first release should while avoiding the, "This is definitely his first album" kind of feel.
The mixtape is solid and has a raw feel almost like listening to a garageband's first recordings, and yet still shining through the fuzz.
The verses are clever, witty, and certainly meaningful while the choruses are catchy and sometimes filled with emotion and inspiring.
Topics range from past girlfriends, having fun in the club, to braggadocio laden proclamations every rapper needs, and reflections of finding a place and calling in the world.
The first track, "Closure," is an excellent lead off song and without a doubt the album's single. it features a big pop chorus over what is definitely the best beat on the album. This is the J.T. style song mentioned previously that will have the lyrics, "Baby Baby you can never hate me..." stuck in your head for a few days.
"New Hate" is a song that brings the listener to Eric's level as he confidently uses some clever writing to dismiss haters which he sings about over the chorus.
This next song goes hard so the title of "Go" was rather appropriate. Eric lets it loose this song and goes all out and comes real and raw over another great beat as he hits harder here than the rest of the album.
If Eric was recording this next song, "Everything I Need," in a full studio for an album, he would have another hit much in the same vein as "Closure." But what this song is missing in production certainly does not effect the quality of this R&B inspired tune.
(This video is the funny version he made featuring Drake. For the real version, click here)
Yet again the song features a good chorus over a solid beat. The real highlight of the track comes at the end with the overlapping vocals and harmonies with his pleas of, "I want you so bad" over and over until the finish.
In true YMCMB style, Eric takes this Weezy banger and puts his own twist on it. "Megaman Freestyle" sees him forgo some story telling and just lets him flex his lyrical muscle.
Over Wayne's playful laughs in the background Eric unleashes his punch line game with swag as he references pop culture and "flosses" on the track.
"Faded" transitions Eric into the confident and slightly cocky 21 year-old that inhabits all of us. The song broaches the adventures of being young and having a good time at the club while drinking too much and trying to pick up girls. If the song does happen to reach a DJ, the pairing would be perfect.
"This Isn't Me" slows the pace of the album and helps fit it into the next batch of songs.
The song looks back at past relationships and has Eric asking, "Why?" at times as he regrets some decisions and tries to move forward. The track shows him vulnerable for the first time and continues that lingering feeling over the almost reggae but still R&B chorus.
The next track takes the popular, "She Will," collaboration of Drake and Lil Wayne and watches Eric put his own twist on it. Every mixtape has at least one remix for the happening track of the moment and here's his.
Calling it, "New York Girls," Eric delivers with a rant that describes what is wrong with a lot of girls in this city (not all girls). Speaking from experience he describes certain instances in life as he has dealt with these "bad girls."
"It'll Be Alright" is another slow heartfelt song where he takes a reflective look into his own life and contemplates the meaning of it all. Eric talks about the importance of having a purpose and sings about persevering, "It's worth the fight..."
The instrumental is a soft piano ballad that is perfect for conveying the message of the song as he sees people around him succumb to drugs and other failures. For the second verse he brings out the sing-songy flow and talks about Jesus bringing him to Earth to fight back.
The final track, "Outro," is just that. It provides a little bit of contrast in closing by being just piano and vocals. Eric shows off a bit of his singing range here and hits a number of good harmonies in this passion filled ending.
Overall Still Not Heartless is a great introduction and first effort to Eric's growing online audience. There is a mix of everything on this mixtape and he is just getting started in his musical path.
Expect a lot of great things from Eric for the remainder of the year as he just teamed up with the Broken Records Collective, and be sure to come see him along with Process of Fusion, Freestyle Fam, Vinny Jett, and CiG on March 10th at the Lizard Lounge in Staten Island.
Listen to and download the whole album for free at bandcamp!