We have only one problem with this Seattle-born/Queens, New York-based rapper’s Potential Fans mixtape: the title. Because when a project harnesses the production prowess of some major names in the game (Yuri Beats and Tommy Kruise to name a few), we blow right past “potential” and straight into super-fan status.

When an artist’s own tracks are pure gold, the only thing that could elevate their worth is collaboration with other key players. And Aaron Cohen definitely plays nice in the industry sandbox.

It helps that Cohen’s rapping style is almost a contradiction – it’s aggressively chill. It’s intense in a way that’s captivating, but it’s accessible enough for people who don’t consider themselves hip-hop aficionados to appreciate it. He’s catchy like Kid Cudi but with a classic 90s like tempo and flow (as heard on the track “Ego”).

On the opener “True” he asks, “What are you going to do if your dreams don’t come true?” A question that’s relatable, resonating and is the perfect preface to the rest of the musical dialog. Lyrics to the title track “Potential Fans” shed light on the meaning of the phrase: “I ain’t got critics / I got potential fans.” And while the theme may seem a bit arrogant, Cohen does it in a “confident but not cocky” way that merits our respect.

Second standout song “Why You Mad For” is notable for a few reasons. For one – the track is featured on the Grand Theft Auto 5 mixtape, a credible honor that speaks for itself. And then of course there’s the music. The distorted dramatic entrance is backed by a static synth and carried by a steady beat. While the chorus keeps the tempo, the vocal ferocity increases repeating the lines “Why you mad for? Why you mad for?”

By this point we’re realizing Aaron Cohen is a rule bender. But we look the other way, because as we all know, good music is allowed to break the mold. 

Cohen’s Potential Fans mixtape is out today via Decon Records. So stream it on Grooveshark & if you like what you hear, you can download it here.

By Anna Murphy