Illustration by Rioka Hayama
This summer was huge for media centered around the Bay Area. Movies taking place in and around Oakland made so much money for the Grand Lake theater that the longtime leaseholder was able to permanently buy it. One of these movies was Blindspotting.
Blindspotting is a film created by two Berkeley High alumni, Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs. The two friends wrote and starred in the movie, which centers around an ex-con’s last week of probation as he deals with gentrification in Oakland and a police shooting of an unarmed black man.
The film is incredible, but what’s even more amazing is the music that has emerged from it. Diggs and Casal, who are also rappers, created an EP back when the movie released based around Diggs’ character Collin. Blingspotting: The Collin EP was an incredible demonstration of both rapper’s talents with standout tracks like “Easy Come, Easy Go” and great features from other Bay Area artists including E-40 and Mistah F.A.B.
After The Collin EP dropped, Casal teased a follow up centering on his character, Miles. In November Blindspotting: The Miles EP finally dropped and again demonstrated the insane talent of both rappers. The EP also added even more features including T-Pain and SOB X RBE.
Both albums start with banter-like freestyles between Diggs and Casal in character, without any background production. This gives a nice introduction to the talent of the two main artists before the actual songs start. The Miles EP mostly centers on Casal, but both him and Diggs feature on almost every track.
Their flows and styles nicely contrast to keep the project interesting, but neither outshines the other. They both have really impressive lyricism and wordplay that only gets better the more times it’s listened to.
Casal’s writing is best demonstrated on “Dope.” On this track he raps about growing up and selling in Berkeley and Oakland. His flow stays basic enough to put the emphasis on the lyrics and it serves the track really well. Another standout is the track “Drippin,” featuring SOB X RBE. It immediately captivates with the beat, and moves into a catchy hook. Each verse on the track features the incredible writing and experimentation with flows that is to be expected from this album. In particular, Casal’s verse stands out, showing his amazing versatility.
While these two tracks stand out, the whole album is on par with their established quality. There’s only a few problems, and none of them are even that major. The main problem is the subject matter of each song. They all talk about very similar subjects even though they do so through unique beats and writing. Although some people might get annoyed at this, it fits the theme of the album. The whole EP is meant to be a sort of soundtrack to the character of Miles and his life, so it makes sense that they would all be closely connected.
The other thing that may annoy listeners is the focus on Casal. While both men in the main duo have done a lot, Diggs is definitely the more famous of the two. Often when people see his name they think of his work in Hamilton or his group Clipping. Due to his fame, lots of listeners will expect him to be the center of every song. An easy solution to this problem is to pair this album with The Collin EP. That album has more Diggs and is equally amazing, so it’s worthwhile to listen to it along with The Miles EP.