Che Noir – “As God Intended” review

Che Noir is a 26 year old MC from Buffalo, New York that I’ve been keeping up with for the past couple years now. I first caught wind of her through here extensive collaborations with 38 Spesh whether it be Che featured on his projects or Spesh producing a couple of her EPs. But to change things up, she’s enlisting Detroit veteran Apollo Brown for her full-length debut.

The album kicks off with “Anti-Social”, where Che talks about being a star since she was a kid over a boom bap beat with a luxurious piano-lead. The next song “Blood’s Thicker” paints a picture of what it was like for her growing up in Buffalo over a vintage soul sample while the track “Hustle Don’t Give” with Black Thought finds the 2 spitters being money hungry over an upbeat instrumental. The song “Money Orientated” lyrically needs no further explanation over a mystical beat while the track “12 Hours” tells the story of Che killing her man after catching him cheating on her with her friend Lisa over a desponding instrumental.

The song “Hold It Down” with Ty Farris sees the 2 talking about fighting until they die over an orchestral beat while the track “Daddy’s Girl” talks about her father being absent in her life on top of a spacious instrumental. The song “Worth Gold” talks bout being an adolescent over a somber boom bap beat while “The Apple” with Planet Asia finds the 2 making a dedication to black women worldwide over over a peaceful instrumental.

The song “Freedom” tackles racism in the United States over a woozy boom bap beat while the track “Follow the Wisdom” with Skyzoo displays a churchy beat & the way Apollo flips Scarface’s “My Block” on the hook is just incredible. The song “Winter” talks about how this man loves the streets more than her over a jazzy beat while the penultimate track “Live By the Code” over a tempting instrumental. The album then finishes with “’94”, which is a tribute to some of Che’s influences from Biggie to G-Unit over a meditative boom bap beat.

Buffalo has really been taking over the hip hop scene in recent years thanks to Griselda & this album only proves that Che Noir is on her way to becoming one of the illest female spitters out today. Throughout its 51 minute runtime, you’ll find some of her best songwriting to date accompanied by Apollo Brown‘s ever-so-phenomenal set of production.

Score: 4.5/5

Joell Ortiz – “Mona Lisa” review

Joell Ortiz is a 38 year old rapper from Brooklyn, New York who rose to prominence after being featured in the Unsigned Hype column of The Source in 2004. He then signed to Aftermath Entertainment in 2006 & they allowed him to release his debut album The Brick: Bodega Chronicles with E1 Music in the next year. Then in 2008, he left Aftermath & formed Slaughterhouse with Royce da 5’9”, KXNG CROOKED & Joe Budden. They saw a lot of success together with their self-titled debut the next year, landing a contract with Eminem’s Interscope Records imprint Shady Records in 2011 (the same year Joell put out his sophomore album Free Agent. However, the supergroup’s only album on the label welcome to: OUR HOUSE in the following year would unfortunately end up being their last. He’s been focusing on his solo career ever since then & now for his 6th full-length album, he has enlisted Detroit’s very own Apollo Brown to produce it in it’s entirety.

After the “Brushstrokes” intro, we go into the first song “Reflection”. Here, Yaowa putting his 2 cents in on the demise of Slaughterhouse over a mellow beat with some strings. The track “‘My Block” is a vivid tribute to the Cooper Park Houses over a soulful beat while the song “Cocaine Fingertips” is filled with hilarious battle bars over a settle bass-line. The track “Grace of God” is about making it out of the projects with an orchestral boom bap beat while the song “That Place” recalls a friend of his being shot over a somber beat.

The track “Word…” talks about his main squeeze over some bass guitar while the song ““Decisions” contemplates whether to keep rapping or selling cocaine over a gloomy instrumental. The track “Timberlan’d Up” sees Joell linking up with Royce to talk about fighting people over a gritty boom bap beat but if you were a huge Slaughterhouse fan like I was, then you’ll definitely like the remix with KXNG CROOKED a lot more. The penultimate track “Come Back Home” reflects on the good times in his block over a soulful boom bap beat & then the titular song is a 3 minute epic that finishes the album.

As expected, this is Joell’s best work yet. His lyricism is sharper over time & the organic Apollo Brown production suits his stories near perfectly. If you wanna hear an underrated vet at his most mature moments, then give this a listen.

Score: 4.5/5