Reviewed by Kahron Spearman, Fri., Dec. 4, 2015
Self-produced, The Principium introduces local rapper Malik on its opener, "Trying to make your dreams for real." With that, 19-year-old Austin Community College MC Brian Baptiste becomes the future of Austin hip-hop. A fundamentally idealistic, sophisticated affair, The Principium demonstrates unusual self-trust, locking into a peculiar dream state with an Inception-like tunneling quality beginning on daydreamer "Time," a full-fledged single-in-waiting. Shades of Drake and J. Cole color "Talk About It," which, without warning, breaks down into a hazy, cool, jazz affair – an album-long motif. "Eyes Open" and the too-cool romantics of "In Tune" fit comfortably into the contemporary rap/sung vein dominating airwaves. "I think nothing of you, but don't think less of me," he explains on the foggy "Paradox." The album's best tracks come deeper in the program – stalking brooder "In the Black" and booming (faintly) sociopolitical "Wash It Off (The Chase)" – layering vocals atop nuanced sonics, ranging stormy to menacing. On penultimate soul-trap effort "Water," Baptiste's actual baptism is heard, completing the artist's trip through his darkest valley into redemption.