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By Eli Schoop, Copy Editor

[Self-Released; 2016]

Rating: 4.5/10

Key Tracks: “WHO AM I?,” “JUST LIKE MAGIC”

Kool A.D. apparently does not like to be typecast. He is a man of many modes, trying out sounds like free samples at Costco, dabbing in the methodology of prodigy while being uninterested in maintaining easy classification. This is admirable, desirable even. However, scrutiny is not exempt from such creative decisions. This is definitively true in the case of HAVE A NICE DREAM. In this instance, Victor Vasquez releases a Kanye-esque demo tape without the latent perfectionism attached to it.

Immediately noticeable is the gratuitous usage of vocoder. Straddling the line between genuine creative decision and gimmick, it’s hard to endorse the affectation when it doesn’t suit the artist behind the voice-masking. Kool A.D. has a warm and relatable feeling to his music, conjuring up imagery of mellow kickbacks and pool parties. HAVE A NICE DREAM throws this all out the window in favor of a hypnagogic gaze smothering production and lyricism alike. Somewhere between 18 Carat Affair and Toro Y Moi (who is featured and produces an instrumental), it comes off as banal and ineffective in translating a forceful mood to the listener.

This isn’t to say Vasquez’s tracks can’t evoke or stimulate in the moment. “WHO AM I?” bequeathes this beautiful 808-laced cloud-rap beat by way of auto-tuned vocals that shines through pleas of trying to locate a persona and a sustainable manner of living. This pleasurable feeling doesn’t last for the duration of the record, being distilled by forced ballads and weird, sluggish vaporwave throwaway beats. One can’t help but feel apathy while contemplating the lack of polish or refinement that went into the making of this.

Kool A.D.’s Twitter feed is a fairly mundane laundry list of blog hype, current event takes, and all-caps tweets on his music. The normalcy of that kind of web brand can’t be lost symbolically in terms of relating to HAVE A NICE DREAM. It’s refreshing to see a post-blogosphere hype figure find a different lane after all the ruckus has died down, but it's better to be confronted with intrigue rather than tripe. If you’re out there Victor, you can do better.

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