By Shawn Gakhal
There are two noteworthy things about Spencer Waddell.
The first is that he just graduated from Roosevelt University last fall with a major in integrated marketing communications, and the second is that Wadell is now a hip-hop artist going by the name Tooty who might be on the verge of blowing up.
His new mixtape, “First Degree Murder,” just dropped on Feb. 10, exactly 10 years after Kanye West’s coming out party in “College Dropout.”
While the abrasive-tinged title of the mix tape might seem a bit haphazard, it’s actually supposed to be consumed within the purview of metaphors.
On “FDM,” Waddell spits about women, school, obstacles as an African-American and his real life experiences while growing up in the violent hemisphere of the West Side of Chicago.
Initial impressions about “FDM” are the adept usage of radio-ready, soul-inspired samples and solid production throughout the mixtape. Usually, mixtapes conjure up the subtle inference that it may not be exactly radio-friendly, but “FDM” stays away from and breaks through that stereotype.
“Intro” and “Everyday” are dope songs — highway jams — that perfectly set the tone of this carefree mixtape.
Part of the joy of discovering new artists is the inevitable comparisons that are likely to be drawn. Waddell’s flow is impressive, as he sonically resembles the brainchild of Wiz Khalifa and early T.I.
Waddell changes up the pace of the mix tape with cuts like “To Whom This May Concern” and “Chill With You,” which almost serve as hip-hop ballads.
A notable standout track on “FDM” is Waddell’s retro-influenced cover of “Creep” by TLC. He puts his own spin on it, as the pace is stilted, but it still serves to show that Waddell is a student of the hip-hop game.
The best song on “FDM” is the gloomily filled song “Outro.” A shoutout to Roosevelt University can be heard here, and the dark keyboards that pervade in the backdrop eschew a certain type of frantic air in the aural atmosphere.
For Waddell’s first mix tape, his notable flow, musical maturity and the ability to handle complex subject matter — such as success, race and legacy — bodes well for his young future.