North-side native Muhammad Austin may have a hard time paying attention, but his work as Mvstermind has no trouble paying dues. You can probably guess from the title of A.D.D. (Artistically Day Dreaming) that Austin looks at his childhood diagnosis of attention deficit disorder as more of a blessing than a curse. His open-eared style encompasses several hip-hop threads, with a bent toward an almost psychedelic strand of experimentation. His backing tracks can be syrupy and hazy, leading to some alternating soulful and outré grooves. By collaborating with some top-notch female vocalists (Dharma Jean, Sixella Yoccum), Austin brings a touch of celestial harmonies to his catchall songs, especially as he takes such liberties in modulating his own voice. Kayla Steen's ethereal, set-closing "Reverie" (a collaboration with Adult Fur's Ryan McNeely) ends the overstuffed album on a high note.
In keeping with the album's title, the production can go from blissed-out minimalism (as on the Auto-Tuned opening song/mission statement "Brave Soul") to the maximalized pop of "Leaving the Movie Theaters." The song thrives on simple hooks and a kinetic pulse but still slips in odd, pitch-shifted vocals and some great synth squiggles in the coda; it sounds like a hit no matter how you come at it. Such sonic schizophrenia makes it hard to draw a bead on Mvstermind. His time living and working in Atlanta and New Orleans comes through with the aggressive bounce of "Overdraft <$," though few No Limit soldiers would sing about negative bank account balances or filling out a FAFSA form. Such chameleonic behavior is probably part of the plan for a rapper whose verses are so rooted in reality and whose ego is not so large that he can't treat his voice like a piece of Silly Putty.
Want your CD to be considered for a review in this space? Send music c/o Riverfront Times, Attn: Homespun, 6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200, St. Louis, Missouri, 63130. E-mail email@example.com for more information.