“A Briefcase of the Blues” is the new EP from LA’s Turtle. And it fucking sucks! Not because of the actually music – that’s dope! “A Briefcase of the Blues” is to whet the appetite and let you know what’s up for the main course.
This is not Turtle’s crowning achievement, nor is it supposed to be. His first full-length set the bar pretty high, as “Heartistry” was a solid release and introduced Turtle as a concept-driven lyricist with a flare for the depressing! It’s that Johnny Cash-like ability to turn the pain of being human into something people can not only relate to, but enjoy. Turtle has an everyman quality he owes to a background of blue collar work. Dude gets filthy, not only on the mic, but all over his uniform too! Yea and we all know how Tom loves a man in uniform! This record doesn’t stray far from the sentiments so clearly expressed in the last, but it does show progression towards establishing Turtle as an emcee’s emcee and a man of the people!
I can’t lie, Turtle is family. I get flooded with requests to write-up music, review videos, etc. I’m not complaining, I fucking asked for this shit. But it does provide some awkward moments when Syffal’s policy of not talking shit about music but showing love is incongruent with how I feel about an acquaintances stuff. I mostly just ignore it until it goes away. So in the spirit of full disclosure this adorable mother fucker is my roommate, band mate, and dearest of friends. I am not writing this for him because of that. I was probably one of the most excited listeners to get their ham sammiches on this fucking record. Because despite all of the other ties that bind, I’m at the heart of the matter a fan of this kind of music.
“Briefcase of the Blues” is an installment towards what is hopefully a full-length record that will define this new artist. With “Briefcase…” Turtle’s paying dues. As a Japanese emcee born in North Hollywood and baptized on the streets of early 90’s San Fernando, and raised as much by California Youth Authority as by anything, one must appreciate his unique voice. It is one born in fire, but has cooled, hardened not with bravado and exaggeration, but with age and perspective. It’s rage distilled into understanding. The cage has long ago been rattled; the only thing left to confront is himself. With tracks about the history of Japan, failed relationship after failed relationship, his personal demons, and an almost spiritual soul-searching, “A Briefcase of the Blues” delivers and a intelligently-written, competently-delivered installment of certified emo rap.
Produced the mostly by LA maestro EQ, the drums are either loved or hated. And Turtle is still a release or two away from tightening and perfecting his narrative form of lyricism. But this is evidence of a young artist, not young in age, but young in his development of what I believe is his potential. Turtle’s no baby, but he is an up-and-comer whose style and content come from a life being lived. I can honestly vouch for the truthfulness in advertising. This dude really means this shit. Part of the progression is also evidence in the collaborations on the record. A collective of homegrown talent collaborating based on real friendships and proximity is in full swang.
While I do not think he's reached his full-potential here, you should take it from the guy who has seen these songs birthed from life, raised by lead put to paper, kicked out to microphones, come to roost in postproduction, and finally matured into this EP, "Briefcase of the Blues" is Turtle's best release to date. It makes me feel good to know that there are still decent people making music for all the right reasons.