Ivan Ave – Every Eye
Released 11/10/2017

You wouldn’t expect a cat from Norway to nail the spirit of  jazz rap, yet Every Eye, the sophomore full-length from Oslo-based rapper and Mutual Intentions crew member Ivan Ave, carries a confidence and lyrical dexterity – not to mention a keen ear for beats – perfect for Sunday afternoons and late-night contemplations.

Ave first turned heads on the beat scene in 2014 with his MNDSGN produced EP Low Jams. Every Eye, Ave’s third release for Berlin boutique Jakarta Records, is thoroughly indebted to the musical fluidity of jazz. His soundscapes are largely built atop spacey synths, providing a simple and effective foundation for Ave to pepper in his elastic lyricism.

Tracks like “Fast Forward” show the spitter’s ability to entertain with a less-is-more approach. His laid-back sing-song has a true knack for finding his pocket, and his dexterous flow shows him inserting syllables with speed or slowing his delivery for a hook. Single “Steaming,” co-produced by Dam-Funk and Kaytranada, is further proof of Ave’s avid ability to seize his musical space. When the scattering snares and booming kicks zone out, he inserts double-time bursts, never settling on a specific pattern but rather maintaining an open, melodic approach that can feel akin to a jazz trumpet solo.

The Like and Kiefer produced “Running Shoes” is a standout on the 14-song set. The beat pairs beautifully with Ave’s lyrics, which paint an open-hearted ode to ignoring life’s hard times. “My finish line been ribbons in the sky // Running circles around my problems since about knee high // She said if you ain’t down to make some moves on some real life // I gotta move my feet like,” he raps before his voice is cut off by a walking bass line evoking his girl walking away.

Album closer “Young Eye” carries an after-hours energy, his scope widening from relationship woes to changing political winds. Speaking to his maybe-unborn child (“We’re not sure, but the period’s overdue”), he points out the power of perception, beckoning the soon-to-be youth to not adjust to the lenses of greed and hostility that can be prevalent in society. In the second verse, he speaks on the rise of extremism in Europe, rapping “Neo Nazis marching in Stockholm again though // Half of those fools caught in the Stockholm syndrome // Ain’t no making excuses for a nazi or defending them // But I ain’t seen a newborn with an emblem on them.”

Every Eye is an album that functions on two sonic levels; the beats, coupled with Ave’s flow, create easy music to vibe out to. But it’s also a collection of songs that rewards the listener with repeat listens. Ave is in full control of his sound, expertly leveraging a top-notch stable of producers whose jazz and funk influenced beats fit Ave’s carefree flow remarkably well from start to finish.

If you appreciate the future beats being created nowadays by MNDSGN (a frequent collaborator and producer on this project), or you find yourself joyfully listening back to the effortless lyrical style of Digable Planets, consider Ivan Ave’s most recent release a must listen.
By: Brandon Roos