The Dance Your Face Off Vol.2 EP feels like it’s from another dimension and it pretty much proves everything is possible: ’00s futuristic mood, ’90s hip hop flow style, ’80s synth and drums, ’70s singing voice, a hefty total of 40 years of music in ONE project. And it sounds unexpectedly cohesive and pretty mind-f*ckin’-blowing. Think of a time when you hesitated to try a new drink, only to find out minutes later you love this stuff.
Let’s start with the fact that Mike knew what he was doing when he decided on the cover artwork. In a funny way, it does carry the very meaning of the album: you won’t know what you hit you but, like zombies, you will find yourself physically approving of this music whether you like it or not. Yeah, you will be in a sort of trance that by the time the 3rd song kicks in, you’re moving and just patiently waiting to see what’s gonna be next. This EP is so damn fascinating that it takes you completely out of your comfort zone and you continue staying there willingly.
The first song off Dance Your Face Off Vol. 2 is The Oregano Way, and if in the beginning it seems to start with big-sounding drums that you’re most likely accustomed with, at only 10 seconds in, that synth hits you smack-dab in the face, bringing back feelings of an era you probably didn’t even live (hear our this track for example). And just when you’re expecting those disco vocals to arrive, you get… SURPRISE! ’90s good old hip hop flow! If someone didn’t know the definition of trippin’, well you just felt it.
At the start of Baby, When The Lights Go Out with a slightly raspy voice and an obvious singing ability, Mike stylishly tricks us again “no, it don’t stop/ ’til the Dj make a beat drop”, and the hip hop drums make their way in along with the organ and electro synth. But lo and behold, Mike can actually rap his ass off! going incredibly fast and riding that beat like he’s been spitting bars since he was born. This song perfectly self-describes itself in the 2nd verse “Adrenaline, never had a rush like that”. I have to mention that infectious hook too. Easy to sing, easy to memorize, very melodic, that’s mainstream potential in my book.
Dance Your Face Off, the 3rd song off the EP, is an experimental ode to the well-known Gonna Make You Sweat by the C+C Music Factory. It even displays similarities in the way it features spoken words and shouts rather than straight rap. The peculiar choice of instructing voices, eerily reflects how today’s society got too many leaders, all screaming at the same time in your damn ears to do X, Y, Z but always, of course, to manipulate the outcome in their favor. The way they’re lifeless, robotic, that’s how we are commanded by these stupid politicians. I wonder if Mike knew the layers of meaning he’s veiled in a 3-minute song. My applause to you!
Paranoia, excitingly, has a different construct than the previous songs, starting lightly with some drums and synth and building up from there. Bonus points to myself for having anticipated Mike’s view on these times we’re living “I ain’t never seen nothing like this/ Feeling like I can’t hide anxiety and stress/ With the whole world up in a mess/ I’m pacing around hopeless and distressed/” we gotta give credit where credit is due because Mike raps while fitting the damn beat! Not one extra unnecessary syllable. This guy knows how to correctly write a rap record. Some of you should hire him to pen your next hit. As far as the hook goes, it acutely has a ’70s feel to it and it’s just straight-up lovely. Warm to the heart.
In Lips Like Nicotine, the 5th track, Mike drops the rapper and picks the singer, pleasantly showcasing his dreamy, breezy voice in both higher-pitched sustained notes and in stunning short vibratos. A very danceable track, quality production, easy to digest and repeat, highly suggested to dance music lovers.
Now we’re at my favorite song off Dance Your Face Off Vol. 2: Two Beers & A Black ‘N Mild. Mike seems to have wanted to please both the hip hop heads and pop music lovers with one track and he did it! successfully too! “Two beers and a Black ‘N Mild/ Kicking and getting wild/ It feels just like a dream/ A sense of fantasy” hands down, a smash hit record waiting to take off right here. Moderate amounts of bar spittin’, sung hooks, nice layered vocals, you can’t help but get addicted to it.
Now… for the faint of heart, you might wanna skip this song. Quarantine Shuffle starts off with several gunshots, then a woman screaming repeatedly, while the instruments casually do their job without ever being bothered. Very much like the world keeps moving on regardless of what’s happening in your personal life. Despite all the mess, pain, confusion, anger, all the bad stuff really, life on Earth NEVER stops. A most epic portrayal of an extraordinary meaning. I’m fascinated ’cause with every song Mike just got deeper and deeper.
The 8th track, Corona, has those chill alternating chords that fit rightly as an ending record on the EP. I admire how Mike pulled off another 2-crowd pleaser: hip hop on the verses and singing on the chorus. Many artists do one or the other, so we got the honor of listening to someone who masterfully does both. Corona is the song clearest in its meaning, concluding the project on a serious note, leaving the audience with Mike’s true thoughts.
Dance Your Face Off Vol. 2 is the fire to the rain, the antidote to mainstream, the paranoia in the calmness, and equally the tranquility in the midst of a storm. It is an enthralling experience and you will discover new elements to analyze every time you play the EP. Do not deprive your curious mind of the case study Mike Oregano brings to you.
Review by Mariana Berdianu
Blue Rhymez Entertainment ©2020