Razor Tongue Media

Mic Capes Fights Through Loss and Delivers an Outstanding Record in
In Spite of

Mic Capes Fights Through Loss and Delivers an Outstanding Record in
In Spite of

For the last decade, the Portland native Mic Capes has been creating soulful conscious music bringing good vibes and enlightenment. Like a voice for the working family man, his lyrics often speak of survival and the struggle to just make ends meet. Citing his faith in God and a personal sense of ambitious tenacity, Capes’ works give hope for improvement and growth. His latest album, In Spite Of…, released July 2021, continues Capes’ repertoire of therapeutic, soul-touching poetry. This project showcases eight new songs (plus one intro) that give a glimpse into the artist’s personal influences, inspirations, and self-talk. 

Though Capes has always been one to share his own experiences through his music, In Spite Of… seems to be an especially vulnerable look into his world and mind. The album opens with a recording of Dyon Spencer, a pastor of Life Change Church in North Portland, prophetically speaking over Mic and telling of what he sees to come in the emcee’s life.

This introduction, aptly entitled “PROPHECY” offers both insight into the rapper’s faith as well as the great sobriety with which he takes his musical work. Played with arena-like echo over jazzy electric piano, this deeply intimate moment gears listeners to embark with Capes as he aims to fulfill this high calling. In the following songs Capes shares the words with which he goads himself forward, the perspective he puts upon himself to never relent, and the role his family plays in shedding wisdom and comfort in the day-to-day toil.

Capes is an extremely eloquent lyricist who uses extra-conventional multisyllabic rhymes to weave thought-provoking narratives. Balancing holiness and hustle, Capes shares how his sense of belief doesn’t blind him to the world’s hardships but rather carries him through them. In the track entitled “TIRED (GRATEFUL)”, Capes groans repeatedly ‘I’m so tired of getting by, tired of getting by, tired of getting by’, on each occasion employing a new rhyme to couple against this plea describing the world’s many injustices. Whether it’s ‘pressed for dollar signs’, ‘hood is changing, man, city gentrified’, or ‘rent is getting high’, all of these cries are countered with Capes’ refusal to quit and his dependence upon the God to Whom he prays. Similarly, in “AFFIRMATIONS” Capes declares ‘I know that fear is real, but I believe in God/I chose to quit my job and go against the odds…we ain’t had no 401’s or trust funds/we were taught to hustle, taught to bust guns’, always baring both philosophies on which he’s built his worldview. In this dual-faceted presentation, Mic Capes makes accessible his found peace even in the absence of a wholly peaceful world. 

Recurring in the project are Mic Capes’ expression of appreciation and admiration for members of his family. In “TIRED (GRATEFUL)”, Capes exults ‘My mama proud of me, so is my dad/my little brother is my biggest fan’. Perhaps even greater still is the song “W.W.J.D”, a play on the ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ cliche, this song actually asks ‘what would Johnny do?’, depicting Capes trying to glean from the wisdom of his father who has already passed away. It is clear from such reverent appreciation for his family that part of Capes’ endurance can be attributed to his rich community and loving support.

The production of this album was careful to not contradict the lyrics with incompatible accompaniment. The musical backing of this album is complementary to the lyrics, pairing pensive lyrics with tranquil melodies and anxious lyrics with apprehensive rhythms. Using intentional instrumentation and meaningful sound effects, the song backings work to further emphasize each song’s message. Because the majority of this album is thematically set upon insight and musing, appropriately much of the beat work is writhe with R&B chord progressions, jazz instruments, and soul guitars. However, in the outlying cases of songs with more disquieting tones, the beats are likewise unsettling. This is best exemplified in the BeatsByP produced “URGENCY”, whose beat is a fast skipping, stuttering piano sample which amplifies the song’s subject of constant vigilance, finally proven with an alarm clock sounding in the song’s outro. 

The struggles Mic Capes highlights in In Spite Of… are common to many of us, but the level of assurance and peace he possesses seem a bit more rare. In this vulnerable examination of his worldview and experience, Capes extends welcome to his listeners to find similar resolution. This album is a beautiful cerebral work delivered with masterful musicality. If you’re tired of getting by, tune in to Mic Capes’ In Spite Of… available wherever music is played, and make sure to follow Mic Capes at @miccapesraps on Instagram and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/miccapesmusic.

For Razor Tongue Media

Mamu McMatthews

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