Cecil Otter – Dead Echo EP

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Calling a genre indie-hip-hop feels like a bit of an oxymoron, but that’s the best way to describe Minnesotan rapper/producer Cecil Otter and his EP “Dear Echo.”

The EP opens with the track “Cross Countries,” a solemn song about friends and lovers or everyone and anyone who wants to come together. It’s not often that a hip-hop song starts with an acoustic guitar and an MC reciting almost poetic bars. When the beat does come in, it doesn’t drop or crash through to knock the song off rhythm. Instead it creeps in subtly and may even require multiple listens to pinpoint its entrance. The remainder of the track has more traditional hip-hop styles, with heavy bass drums and open hi-hats with little to no rapping. This song seems to be more about the emotion Otter is emitting and what the listener gets out of it which is an interesting take, especially for an opening track.

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“Grime” begins with more bass grooves driving the song forward with a distorted guitar sound on the chorus with Otter screaming “So go ahead look down, look down the barrel of that gun.”  

It flows well with the softer opening of “Cross Countries” bringing us into Otter’s inner and sweeter thoughts, but “Grime” shows his aggressive side without being jarring.

The closer, “Beauty,” bookends the EP well by starting with shrieking vocals from female accompaniment and sounds that make it sound like something you’d hear in a documentary about the Amazon. The track takes the mellow production of “Cross Countries” but the frustrated chorus from “Grime” to make a song that closes the EP nicely.

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The remainder of the EP are the instrumentals of the three first tracks and while they don’t add anything new to the EP or the vibe, they are perfect for nighttime driving or for focus music. It speaks volumes of the production on this EP if the beats can almost stand on their own as independent songs, practically doubling the EP’s length.

Otter has a talent for production that cannot be denied and is almost enough to recommend the EP for that alone, but the words and his flows as an MC are up to snuff enough to warrant checking out the whole EP for the complete experience.

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