New Jersey based rapper Neako has been slowly building a following for himself, with a handful of mixtapes under his belt and a Taylor Gang co-sign. This year, the upstart is set to release his self-produced album, T.A.T.T (These Are The Times), but before that, he rolls up a gift for fans with his latest mixtape, LVLZebra, aiming to build the momentum for the upcoming release.
The majority of the songs on the 20-track tape are fun and fit for partying or smooth and fit for lighting up. This style and varying levels of otherworldliness has become Neako's forte, as he's not shy about his penchant for smoke and staying fly. Anyone in search of intricate concepts or stories would benefit looking elsewhere but Neako's raps about his come up are where he's most comfortable, and where it seems he'll remain.
The production on the project helps make up for some lyrical shortcomings. Neako produced two tracks himself (“N.R.B.F.M.” and “LVLFCKM”) and for the rest of the production, turned to talents like Flying Lotus, Harry Fraud, and Mark Deschamps, helping drive the release. The sound on the mixtape has the ability to captivate and take the listener to new places ("1 333 777 2323," "Till It's All Gone"), and generally backs Neako's bars properly.
Other highlights on the mixtape come in the form of The Flying Lotus produce, “LVLerica Garden,” with its minimal production and tribal like sounds. The Mark Deschamps produced “LVLFLXXN,” the Com Truise crafted “Left, Down, Right, Up,” and “Rollin With The Ghost,” produced by Morcheeba, all hold up, as well.
Though not all of the content on the mixtape matches the originality of the song titles, the production is similarly remains solid through, and Neako seems on track to continue building his base with LVLZebra. —Erin Duncan