Primary Element: Ambition Review

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It isn’t everyday that a Penn State football player drops a professionally produced album but that’s what Mike Wallace has done. Teaming up with the twins Stanley and Stephen Spottswood to form the group Primary Element, their second album “Ambition” has hit the Internet by storm at a server-slowing pace.

To classify Ambition as your typical college mixtape would be to do a disservice to the obvious effort that was put behind each of the 13 songs on the album. Generally speaking the first half of the album is a mix of R&B and Lupe Fiasco, the tones and beats behind the opening tracks are the underpinnings of lounge hip-hop. Not to suggest that it lacks intensity, rather that it’s trying to be actual music rather than 13 tracks of continuous subwoofer exercises. For anyone familiar with Rick Ross’ song series Maybach Music the first 6 tracks very well could have been versions of Maybach Music that never made the album.

The second half of the tape plays out with more energy and “club banging” that you can come to expect from a token mixtape, that being said it doesn’t lack the effort and creativity that the first half of the album had, just that it’s going in a different direction. Songs like “Swagger High” “Lights Camera Action” and “The Greatest” seem the most likely to hit an apartment party near you with high energy Black Eye Peas-Usher-N.E.R.D like beats. I can almost hear Pharrell letting the minor chords fly in the background.

Overall the album shows a serious amount of time and effort, as always there is room for musical and lyrical growth but considering the album is free to download and done in-between football practice, class, and travel it is hard to give this anything short of 4 out of 5 stars in the mixtape grading scale. If anything you can tell that PE is having fun doing what they do, that is always a plus.

Staff Favorite: “Just Another Day”/”The Greatest”

Deep Cut: “Sold My Soul”

Room For Improvement: “She Walks By”

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  • Chris

    As a 35 year old white guy, I’m obviously qualified to comment on this album — but I didn’t put in countless hours of my youth glued Yo MTV Raps for nothing. Ambition is really, really good, probably because it reminds me of the old school stuff…but not too much. Just enough to be familiar. They obviously have an appreciation for decades of music, not just what’s been put out in the last three years.

    Anyway, I’ve been listening to it throughout most of today. I’m totally blown away by the fact that these are college kids with minimal free time. Put it this way — I was in a few bands while at PSU in the 90′s, so I was plugged in to what people were recording on their own back then. There was nothing this polished and professional back then. I’m sure part of that is due to the technology available at the time, but the point still stands. Everything is very nicely and carefully layered. These guys should be really proud.

    I think “Sold My Soul” is the best track. “Something Primary” is a close second.