Every single day I see and respond to requests for new music. Where are you looking when you say you can’t find fresh sound? There is so much talent pouring out of social media pages that your friends and friends of friends are making. All you have to do is pay attention. That is how I connected with Chris Fields. He is a friend of a friend who caught my attention with a single verse. If you follow me, you know RichFraz from my past articles. Fraz is a childhood friend and someone I used to sing with in the choir (yes, your girl sings). When listening to his ‘Tale of Two Kingz‘ before writing up my review of the project, my heart stopped for a minute when I heard the opening verse of ‘Baba Yaga.’ In that verse, Chris Fields converted me to a fan for life. On top of the instrumentals on that track being INSANE, the flow was immaculate, lyrics cleverly planned, catchy, and vicious: a recipe for rap perfection. Naturally, when I heard that a new Chris Fields album was on the way, I knew I would be in there like swimwear and taking you all for the ride. This week, kick back and vibe while I go track by track on ‘What I Meant To Say‘ from Chris “Phantom” Fields.
Who is Chris “Phantom” Fields?
Chris Fields, “Phantom” as you hear in adlibs, is a rapper, singer, producer, songwriter, and hip-hop creative originally from Brooklyn, New York. Fields started making music because of his early love of writing and poetry. Chris always possessed a passion for song, taking part in chorus and choosing music education in New York in his youth. On his inspiration and style, he says, “I love being artistically expressive, and creating music allows me to do just that. I can, through songs, tap into different emotions the listener has and connect with them through my stories and life.”
His latest project, ‘What I Meant To Say,’ which I dive into in this article, continues the momentum of previous projects and a collection of accolades attributed to his business acumen and lyrical genius. Fields touts over 170,000 views for his ‘Lord Knows‘ freestyle on Worldstarhiphop and 2.7 million plays on Soundcloud for his remix to Tink’s ‘Million.’ Recently, his song ‘Wave Different‘ from the ‘HATELOVE‘ album appeared on the Real Housewives Of Atlanta on BRAVO.
What I Meant to Say
Because nothing in music is straightforward, I knew there was more than meets the eye when it comes to this album. Knowing its importance to Fields based on previous conversations, I reached out to ask about the significance of the album title and was not disappointed.
In conversation, Fields shares that ‘What I Meant To Say’ is a double entendre of a title. “On one end, I felt like I had more I wanted to share and say from my last album, ‘HATELOVE.’ On this album, I wanted to express that I had something more to say or prove. The other side of the meaning is more direct: these are the things I meant to say. I am bolder, more raw, more blunt, more real, and unapologetic about my experiences and where I am at this career stage. Everything from the red album cover to the pose speaks with more attitude. I produced all the records (except track 4) and wanted to show maturity and growth with the sound. Flipping samples allowed me to creatively showcase my talents, capturing a mature old-school vibe for the album.”
As I expected, Chris Fields has planned every detail of the project with intention down to the pose and color of the album art. You can expect that same attention to detail in everything he does, including every song on this album. With 15 tracks on ‘What I Meant To Say,’ the project comes in at just under 51 minutes and brings a chill old-school hip-hop energy that weaves a common thread through the project as promised.
The Intro (with LOS)
This track is an introduction to the project, but again, set up with intention. I enjoyed how Fields gives us a quick catch-up on what he has been up to since his last project and gives LOS the mic to build hype for the rest of the project, what it is and is not. As Los says, “Go get your popcorn.”
A calm melodic wave rolls over you while you bob your head with this track. My favorite aspect of this song is the balance between relaxing energy on the sample, melodies, and instrumentals, juxtaposed with Chris Fields talking his shit loud and clear, aggressively taking shots at weaker artists. It’s impressive how Fields spews venom with peace and confidence in his voice that few could hope to imitate. “This new era is all cap and all of them fucking suck” hit me so unexpectedly that I laughed out loud. This man is writing and performing from another era, and the song title reflects that.
Prove Your Love
Once again, the brazen nature of Fields and his wordplay had me spitting out my coffee. In the first minute, listeners will be knocked over by double entendre, bold self-aware declarations, and a series of flows that seamlessly come together without hesitation. The hook is fabulous on this track (a creatively integrated sample), making it an easy listen, even on loop, like we all know I do while I write.
Bomb (with Random)
The production on this track is different than the rest of the album. Careful listeners will notice the difference in sound in the build on the introduction and the skeleton-style bridge. You will hear two distinct pieces of the song melded together in the middle. Right after the bridge, the track pattern starts again, and Random jumps in. Lyrically, the message is strong on seeking truth and knowledge with a few controversial topics that I am sure other critics will jump on as points of contention. It is not my favorite track because controversy is not my favorite, but there is no denying Random and Fields are speaking their minds on this one.
Keep That Energy (with RichFraz)
I am biased on this one because RichFraz is the homie, and I mentally was checked into this track as soon as I saw his name, but I do love this one. The hook and chorus on this track are firey energy that anyone sick of the bullshit will identify with. The message is as expected, keep that same energy you have right now as a hater when I blow up. Fields brings a solid argumentative verse up-front about thinking bigger and moving differently, and RichFraz takes the second verse. I found Rich’s verse timing to be a little stutter step, which I believe is intentional, but against Fields and his smooth flow, you almost want to smooth the whole track out.
Like a Pro
This track surprised me. Maybe because our one-on-one interactions are so professional, I did not think he had it in him. ‘Like a Pro‘ offers some sexual and direct moments that I am obsessed with and shocked by at the same time. Fields puts his masculine prowess in the spotlight on this track. This one is something the ladies will dance to and that men will mentally embody. ‘Like a Pro’ is a radio-ready song built in a recognizable music pattern that leans into pop just a little bit, except for those lyrics. I won’t list my favorite line here – instead, leave your guesses in the comments. Sheesh!
The instrumentals on ‘Check Up‘ are incredible. The sound moves like a fighter getting ready to get in the ring, and the fullness of sound does not leave room for anything else, nor does it require it. I love ad-libs at the right moments, “smile at a hater when you flexin on em,” and the bounce and cadence to this piece. ‘Check Up’ is a faster track with more energy and that signature Fields effortless flow.
Yes. Just yes. This is my favorite track. ‘7vckit‘ is that spicy, bold, talk-that-shit energy. Taking risks, leaps of faith, diamonds, cash, and a whole attitude of fuck it sums it up. Blast this. “Lollipop rappers doing sucka shit.” This is the one.
No Dayz Off
The wordplay on this song is exceptional. The similes and witticism on this song can go toe to toe with the big names in the game right now. You might be fooled into thinking this track is less aggressive with that chill vibe, but you would be wrong. ‘No Dayz Off‘ is a solid track with impressive bars, not to be overlooked.
Just in time for me to add tracks to the spooky season playlists, ‘Spooky Hours‘ brings in creepy undertones and seasonally chilling samples. The instrumentals, bars, and overall feel are dark and ominous but not threatening. Fields is fearless, coming alive in the nighttime and calmly staking his claim as a viable threat in the rap game.
Why do I love this track so much? The song is a story, an almost old-school love story. I love the line, “I’ve been feeling you since New York had payphones.” It takes you right back to a specific time and place. You can’t help but reminisce about your own love story at that time. I related to the young love, vulnerability, and recklessness in the lyrics. The instrumentals hint at a vibe maybe even older than Fields himself with a bright late 60s, early 70s New York vibe that was a breath of fresh air.
Find a Way Back
The record sounds and sample manipulation is super fun on this one. ‘Find a Way Back‘ is 80s/90s pop meets modern hip hop. The song has a hero vibe that I predict will “find a way” to rack up those streaming numbers. For the bold and brokenhearted, ending a toxic connection, this is the track you will connect with emotionally (you decide which emotion to feel here).
‘Real‘ is a message to everyone fake and fronting or out of touch with the grounding reality of life. ‘Real’ is a reality check. Fields addresses the disconnect and differentiation between street life, social media stunting, and actuality in a plea for those stuck in the trap to see things from another point of view. On this one, I enjoyed his refreshing message about what “real” really is.
Sunday Dinners (with Franky Bells)
Franky Bells is an R&B siren of emotion on this track enveloping the rap bars in silken vocals. Chris shares a personal message about his family and the idea of family in general on ‘Sunday Dinners,’ addressing struggle and the emotional toll of estrangement. It’s a beautiful project, relatable, and spoken from the soul.
The intention of this song is powerful. I know Phantom is speaking from his heart in this piece, sharing his internal struggle, frustration, and difficulties as they crash upon his heart and soul, not just as a musician but as a man and human being trying to make it in this world. ‘Waves‘ is the emotional ebb and flow of what it means to be an artist and is one of the most authentically raw tracks I have heard in a long time. The spoken word section at the tail end of the track sent chills up my spine, and the sounds that harken the feeling of a night walk on the shoreline illicit a contemplative peace.
If you didn’t read the whole article because you are rushed, lazy, or just want to cut to the chase, here is the tea. ‘7vckit’ is my favorite track because it is BDE. ‘Waves’ is a raw look into the life and heart of a musician. The entire project is a masterpiece. Without hesitation, the project is impeccable. There are no skips.
So, you ask, does ‘What I Meant To Say’ make the grade? Wholeheartedly, yes. This album earns an A+ in explosive sound from me. Go stream it right now and give it the attention it deserves.