Oakland, CA may not be the conscious-rap-capital of the nation (historically it’s more famous for “hyphy” than higher learning in the hip-hop community), but as in any region, a number of wise emcees do dot the area. From surrounding Richmond, The Frontline duo grew from a bond between junior high school friends Left and Locksmith, who would go on to eschew superficial, materialistic subject matter in favor of enlightening mental building blocks for their music. In search of a solo route post-2010, Locksmith, or Lock (real name Davood Asgari), also a respected battle rapper, kept his dignified character and began releasing a string of single man efforts, Embedded in 2011, A Thousand Cuts (his official studio debut) in 2014 and Lofty Goals in June of 2015. Distributed via Landmark Entertainment, the sophomoric Lofty Goals is elevated by Lock’s very competent rhyming lyricism and a serene atmosphere of placid cloud rap beats.
Here Locksmith is confident, hopeful, and optimistic, slightly conceited voicing cliched platitudes from atop a sizable high horse, but the man does know what he’s talking about and probably is in a better life-place than before. While he doesn’t go head first into his past problems, he does mention a few, like being disappointed in a breakup (“Boxes”), fighting through discouragement (“Tell Me Sh*t”), and wrestling with his conscience (“Open Doors”) for example, but he learns from these experiences in “Lessons” and “Careful” before becoming responsible in “Blinded” with the motivation to persevere (“The Love”). Lock is then able to find the joy that life brings in “American Beauty” with his lady-love from the states and also in “10KONDRMS” getting in an adequate workout with his rhyming talent, his current profession.
A good rapper with his ducks seemingly in a row already in life, Locksmith has appropriately titled his second solo LP after his intelligent ambition and moral high road. Just as appropriate is the production which is calming, smooth, gentle, airy and soft-moving, taking its place in the sky amongst the brightest of stars. Predominantly expressing the emotions that come with having mental cleanliness and a sacrosanct soul, Locksmith’s aura may lack some of the grinding, painful feelings connected to the discipline one must have to follow through with a game plan, but he has finally realized a bright, durable life-attitude that will last him the rest of his days. Also in line with Lock’s syrupy vibes, sweet and kindly singers Braden Blair, Rebecca Nobel, Jarell Perry, and Marc E. Bassy lend vocals, but rappers Jarren Benton, Futuristic and Chris Webby also put in work. Lofty Goals is a respectable second album from a perspicacious hip-hop locksmith who appears to have unlocked all the secrets of his existence.