eLZhi – “7 Times Down, 8 Times Up”

eLZhi is a 42 year old MC from Detroit, Michigan rising to prominence as a member of Slum Village shortly after the departure of J Dilla in 2002. Fast forward to 2008: His solo debut The Preface would go on to be a hometown classic & was followed up 8 years later with Lead Poison. Last we heard from eLZhi was in 2018 when he formed Jericho Jackson with Khrysis & dropped their critically acclaimed self-titled debut that same year but almost 3 years later, eLZhi is returning with JR Swiftz for his 3rd full-length album.

After the “Foolish” intro, the first song “Smoke & Mirrors” talks about seeing through the lies over a luxurious instrumental while the next track “EarlyBird NightOwl” talks about how they can’t bar him to death over a cloudy boom bap beat. The song “Hot Winter Cold Summer” talks about being a problem over a euphoric instrumental while the track “Light 1 Write 1” over a boom bap beat with a harp & occasional background vocals.

The song “Ferndale” talks about memories with a significant other over a slow instrumental while the track “Guns & Boats” with Fes Roc sees the 2 painting vivid street imagery over an atmospheric beat. The song “THUGGed Out Zombies” talks about racial injustice over a rock-influenced instrumental while the track “Potential” talks about how he wishes they could’ve seen that in him over a punchy beat. The song “G.O.D. (Gold, Ore & Diamonds)” talks about materialism over a meditative instrumental while the penultimate track “Master Class” talks about the lyrical level that he’s on over an eerie beat. The album finishes off with “JASON”, where eLZhi analyzes himself over a droney instrumental.

Man, this is on par with The Preface for his magnum opus & one of the greatest albums I’ve heard all year. The cohesion is off the charts, JR Swiftz kills it behind the boards, the themes of resilience being presented in eLZhi’s lyrics throughout sure need to be heard after all we’ve been through in 2020.

Score: 4.5/5

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