Katalyst - Designer Drugs

Honestly, I was leaning heavily towards never writing another review because I don't think I'm quite cynical enough anymore to be a great music critic. That's another problem I had, I didn't want to be considered a critic. It brings up a mental image of a sweat-soaked hermit in a dark room pounding away on a keyboard between bouts of junk food, porn, and self-loathing. However, I find the allure of advance copies too hard to resist and in this case, the advance copy in question is something I've already been waiting to hear; lucky for me. Lucky for you, you'll have your chance to snag “Designer Drugs” on January 25th and at the risk of spoiling the rest of this review for you, you should definitely download it. Hell, pay for it, it's that good.

I first became familiar with Katalyst's music in 2012 after scouring the Internet for any and all good music in or around South Carolina. Months later he smashed the stage (floor) at the first Gusto Fest and ever since then, I've waited for a full length Katalyst album. Obviously I was expecting songs about drugs, partying, sex, money, etc. and there is plenty of that present on this album, but there is something far beyond standard trap music going on here. The album's opener, “Electric Ladyland (Intro)” left me double-taking; think soul music from outer space. I honestly had to remind myself for a moment that this was Katalyst and not some new Big K.R.I.T. or Outkast song. I wanted to play it again as soon as it was over.

Now that my expectations for the album were completely shattered, I listened for each following song with increased anticipation. I'd heard several of the tracks on this album performed at Gusto Fest 2 in 2013 such as “Dealer”, “Smoke Better Weed”, and the potential club smash “Love N Other Drugs”. It was nice to finally hear studio versions of the stuff I was bobbing my head to a few months prior in addition to the songs “What You Want” and “Nefertiti” which have been floating around the Internet for months now. Around halfway through the album I once again found myself noticing how professional this album sounded. I don't mean just sound quality, I mean there is a skill-level, a certainty in approach, present here that doesn't usually come through on a lot of underground rap albums.

Katalyst shows a lot of versatility in his rhymes throughout “Designer Drugs”, his flow changes speed with ease; and lyrically, every topic from trappin' to transcendence shows up. Like I said, there is way more than standard trap music going on here. “Miss YSL” is a fast-paced storytelling rap, complete with “Once upon a time not long ago...” ala Slick Rick; yet another pleasantly surprising song on this album. “Shake” shows Katalyst at his most aggressive, almost shouting his rhymes over a hard beat and a really cool, wobbly 8-bit sound before getting introspective on “The Mirror”, which features a beat and hook that immediately brings some of the more somber 2Pac songs to mind.

Overall, “Designer Drugs” offers something for everyone, club bangers; love songs; hard rhymes; booming beats; fuzzy guitar solos; infectious hooks and tons of drugs and sex. This is a must listen for fans of Southern Hip-Hop aka “Country Rap Tunes” or anyone looking for their new favorite rapper. Katalyst just dropped a jewel, everyone else has to step up now.