In our recent interview, Whose told me that they were pleased with this album because it best represents them as a person as well as an artist. Listening to the candidly honest lyrics on this decidedly less conceptual but inarguably more focused-sounding album, it’s not hard to see where they’re coming from.
‘Chex Mix’ immediately positions itself amongst the self-deprecation often found in Whose’s work, but as the song progresses it becomes as much about venting frustration than directing hate towards one’s self. Massive credit here must go to The Thought, who alongside their typically impressive production also contributes a fantastic hook. The two artists paint a vivid and sometimes morbid picture of life’s various unending struggles, presented in an incredibly catchy way that makes for Whose’s strongest opening track to date. It is of no surprise to me that ‘Chex Mix’ also served as All the Wrong Ideas’ lead single, as it’s the perfect way to bring new listeners into the artist’s enchantingly grimy world.
Most of note when it comes to All the Wrong Ideas is the lack of production input that Whose had. For someone whose initial career was built upon the brilliance of his production, tackling beats that are primarily from close friends and collaborators was a bold but incredibly fruitful artist decision. ‘Fall & Winter’ is most exemplary of the difference in these two approaches, as the first half is produced by Love Ulysses and the second by the artist themselves. Ulysses is one of two producers that contribute most significantly to the project, their work on ‘Fall’ is beautifully atmospheric and sets up the frostier, more melancholy ‘Winter’ perfectly. The latter half being the sole self-produced cut here is interesting, as it reflects most prominently the bleaker aspects of Whose’s past, mostly singular work.
What has carried over from those releases, however, is a penchant for amazing songwriting. ‘Tribute to the Obedience Academy’ is a serious dirge that builds upon the autumnal themes found in the previous song. It’s an appropriate centrepiece for the album that sees the project take its darkest lyrical turn. ‘Dash Con Piss Ball Pit’ also feels like a throwback of sorts, as it’s a bit goofier than other tracks here and definitely a lot of fun. Despite being reminiscent of other songs in their discography (and probably the most Aesop Rock-esque too), it still stands out thanks to some serious lyrical gems in both Whose and Hans’ verses.
This project’s diversity can be attributed to the way in which it came together, Whose informed me that the songs were recorded at different times for various purposes to eventually come together into what we hear in All the Wrong Ideas. I’d like to close out this review by drawing attention to ‘Gone Fishing’, a brilliantly climactic song that makes incredible use of The Thought’s second production here. It’s the most autobiographical song to ever come from Whose, detailing painful memories while staying determined to fight through it all. ‘If you see me by the docks, say hello’ is the very last lyric on this project, and one that encapsulates the themes of loss and hopefulness that it portrays.
When focusing more on being a rapper and less of a producer, Whose has brought out the best in their abilities and created what is without doubt their strongest work to date. I would highly encourage any newcomers to their sound to explore the extensive back catalogue that they have built over the years, but this is the best possible starting place for someone interested in Whose’s unique blend of lyrical expertise and mastery of the soundscape. It’s also an incredibly human project that most people going through a tough time will be able to relate to. If you’re interested in learning more, make sure you check out my interview with Whose, which I will link at the bottom of this article.
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– Chris (@malenchanted)