Closing in on the age of thirty and rapping sometimes gets scoffed at as immature, but in fact, it's probably the best time in one's life to express the feelings of regret, relief, hope, and uncertainty that come with the age.
In the case of P.A.T. Junior, the twenty-nine-year-old rapper has been able to harness that emotion into a personal creative renaissance, which he demonstrated earlier this year with his excellent EP, Black & Mild. But shortly after that project was complete, Kooley High producer Sinopsis approached the rapper with another idea. Sinopsis was so moved by the project that he wanted to collaborate and do a remix of the whole album. The result, titled Smoke Signals is a total reworking of P.A.T.'s original work. Sinopsis is no stranger to this kind of undertaking. He remixed Kooley High's Heights last year and transformed it from a boom-bap cavort to a darker, grittier project with more attitude, called HeightsRX.
On Smoke Signals he did just the opposite, paying careful attention to ensure that he wasn't only changing the mechanics of P.A.T.'s original music but also pulling out nuances and emotions from lyrics that may have been submerged in the original.
Where P.A.T. leaned toward heavier beats on Black & Mild, Sinopsis executes a more lighthearted tone centered around samples. "Better Days Redux" is perhaps the best example of this shift. The lyrics are unchanged, but, in P.A.T.'s original version, the tone of the song was one of triumph after a long-fought battle to see "better days." Sinopsis's take on the track feels more like blissful relaxation, as if those better days have already arrived, and haven't shown any signs of decline. Smoke Signals isn't just another remix album, it's an extension of Black & Mild, and the two should be consumed together. The result is getting to hear one of Raleigh's best producers outdoing himself in real time.