07/15/2011 10:22 am ET | Updated Sep 14, 2011

For Trek Life, A Rapper's Redux

Trek Life's album title Everything Changed Nothing refers to the awakening he experienced through the birth of his daughter. While he grasped the miraculous role we play in life, he recognized how much of the world goes on, oblivious to everyday wonders like a beautiful baby girl.

A remix album makes sense then, as the entire world of music is replaced, but the core message and distinct vocals remain.

Trek Life stands out as a diverse rapper who is a teacher of history, an adoring father, and an adamantly independent artist who has still seen his music used on "The Hills," "Breaking Bad," and the NBA Finals. Eschewing major labels, Trek Like is not afraid to define himself as an artist first and foremost, building his rep as a smart writer.

A successful remix album is less a buffet of outtakes from the original vocals and more like an alternate universe where everything is familiar, yet intriguingly foreign, encouraging you to listen more closely to what the song has aspired to. A great example of this is when Bloc Party was breaking huge with their alt-dance album Silent Alarm, and it was put out as a remix album that was complimentary, even advancing, and not just a deviation or danced-up version of its predecessor. A remix album is an opportunity to take songs written to rock and let them become more of a dramatic statement or exploration with composition.

The original Everything Changed Nothing was produced by Oddisee, a rising star producer and rapper known for his ability to compose around diverse styles. Trek Life says: "Oddisee's range and ability to produce songs that fit into a variety of genres has always been one of the reasons for his success, whether it's producing a track with artistic sentiments and irregular rhythms, or making a classic grimy boom bap track, or even a polished commercial gem."

As Oddisee had molded his group Diamond District to emulate '90s Hip Hop with D.C. area accents, he approached Trek Life's album as an opportunity to create an updated West Coast sound built on the low-riding beats and carefree swagger that has made Dr. Dre the rap equivalent of the Beach Boys' California sound. Fluent in the classic Boom Bap style of old school Hip Hop rhythms, Oddisee works from obscure samples amassed over years of curating records. All recorded and based in his laptop, Oddisee travels with a briefcase full of beats. Oddisee's approach to Everyting Changed Nothing includes upbeat grooves, catchy harmonies, and climactic clashes of horns built up around infectious electronic punctuations. This was an expansion of the themes and voice Trek Life had achieved on his first album, Price I Paid.

Trek Life's re-imagined Wouldn't Change Nothing was released July 12th by Mello Music Group. The revamp overall features a tinge of electronic sound manipulation, though a far cry from mainstream Hip Hop's trend toward clubby techno bombast over the past year. Trek opened up the boards to a variety of producers, from California and across the country: "This one's got some of my West Coasts people like J Bizness, Duke Westlake, A3, Captain, and DJ Buddy. Plus it's got Detroit's Apollo Brown and MarvWon, Philly's Has-Lo, Audible Doctor who did Joel Ortiz's Battle Cry, ST/MiC came through with some heat, SlimKat78 who did a lot of work on yU's Before Taxes killed a joint, and of course Oddisee jumped in for two tracks."

Whereas the original incarnation of Everything Changed Nothing was forged with a poppy soul sensibility, this remix album is like going out on the weekend in a new wardrobe, but a little darker. The songs offer the same essence since the are vocals recorded with that original swagger, but with some jazzy flourishes and tripped out sounding hooks, it's a whole other vibe of Southern California. Overall, the revamp is more dissonant. Suited for parties as well as personal reflection while driving with the windows down, it's a style of Hip Hop that is more ambient and ornamental; some might relate to the melodies as 'stoney.'

Trek Life's reflections on fatherhood, false idols, and forgotten history are worth a listen; the question now is which way you prefer to listen to it. Wouldn't Change Nothing is available in iTunes, as is Everything Changed Nothing. More info at

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