Conway the Machine – “If It Bleeds, It Can Be Killed” review

This is the brand new project from Buffalo emcee Conway the Machine. I really shouldn’t have to explain who he is at this point not just because I’ve been covering the whole Griselda camp quite a bit throughout these past few years, but just the way they have been dominating hip hop since late 2015 balancing quantity & quality by dropping a handful of dope projects a year. But 2020 was undoubtedly Conway’s most prolific year yet, dropping a total of 2 EPs & a full-length debut that’ve all quickly gone down as some of his best bodies of work yet. But as Conway gears up for his long-awaited Shady Records debut God Don’t Make Mistakes, he’s re-enlisting Big Ghost Ltd. for a sequel to No One Mourns the Wicked entitled If It Bleeds, It Can Be Killed.

After the “Commencement” intro from Lukey Cage, the first song “J Batters” calls to free his homie of the same name over some cinematic string sections whereas the next track “away We Move” talks about going from nothing to performing at Coachella over a soulful beat. The track “Kill All Rats” with Ransom & Rome Streetz finds the trio taking aim at snitches over an occult instrumental while the song “Toast” talks about aiming at fuck boys over a luxurious beat.

The song “Losses to Blessings” talks about the trials & tribulations over a melancholic, jazzy beat while the track “Highly Praised” talks about never falling off over a gospel sample. The song “Sons of Kings” with Knowledge the Pirate sees the 2 getting in their shit-talking bag about over a boom bap beat with some up-tempo keyboard melodies while the penultimate track “Red Beams” talks about wanting all the smoke over a devilish beat. The album ends with “Forever Ago”, where Conway talks about lying to protect his significant other from the truth over some harmonious vocal melodies.

I think If It Bleeds, It Can Be Killed is right on par with No One Mourns the Wicked & brought my excitement for God Don’t Make Mistakes to an all-time high. Conway continues to elevate as the best lyricist in Griselda & on the other end, Big Ghost Ltd. cooks up some of his best production yet.

Score: 4.5/5

K.A.A.N. – “All Praise is Due” review

K.A.A.N. is a 29 year old emcee from Columbia, Maryland known for his speedy flows & conscious lyricism. The man has made a lengthy yet consistent discography for himself in just 6 years with my favorites being Black Blood, Pure Intentions, Subtle Meditation & Requiem for a Dream Deferred. He just dropped Blissful Awareness back in May & exactly 2 months later, K.A.A.N. is surprise dropping his 14th album with Big Ghost Ltd. producing the whole thing.

Things kick off with “Foreword”, where K.A.A.N. talks about how life seems so slow over a luscious boom bap beat. The next song “Elevation” talks about his growth over a moody instrumental while “The Feeling” talks about having the urge that something’s wrong over a beat with some beautiful choir vocals hanging in the back. The track “Manifesto” cautions that the world will feel something that has never been felt before on top of a dreary instrumental while the song “Valley of Kings” talks about keeping his head high over a dim beat.

The track $100K & a Benz” talks about pushing it to the limit over an intoxicating beat. while the song “Sellasie” talks about how he doesn’t know where he’s going over a somewhat jazzy beat. The track “Flight” talks about trying to lead the blind over a reclining instrumental while “Apparations” is an emotional ballad from the heart. The album finishes off with “After Words”, where K.A.A.N. vents about questions that he’s been wanting answers for over a boom bap beat with a well-incorporated violin loop.

Overall, this is one of the best albums K.A.A.N. has ever made without a doubt. He comes through with some of his most captivating bars to date whereas Big Ghost Ltd.‘s production sounds unlike anything in the past & it turns out beautifully.

Score: 4/5

M.A.V. & Rob Gates – “The Dark Side of Nature” review

This is the surprise collaborative album between Rochester emcees M.A.V. & Rob Gates. Both of whom are members of Da Cloth along with Mooch & Rigz, who actually happened to drop their own collab effort with Big Ghost Ltd. production top to bottom late last year called The Only Way Out. Given that, it’s only right for Big Ghost to show off 2 other members of Da Cloth for a full project.

After the “Prelude” intro, the first song “Bad News” opens up about doing what needed to be done over a grimy beat with some rock influences to it whereas the next track “Bloodhounds” gets murderous over a wailing guitar. The song “Said What I Said” talks about how ugly the lives that they’ve lived are on top of an instrumental that sounds like something from a horror flick while the track “Wild Card” angrily paints themselves as mobsters over a melancholic boom bap beat.

The song “Green Light” talks about applying the lesions that they’ve learned throughout the years on top of a somber orchestral loop while the track “Tombstone” talks about engaging in criminal activity over a fuzzy boom bap beat. The song “Left for Dead” with Rigz sonically gets back on the rock side of things as the trio talk about how dudes in their hood don’t play while the track “Said Less, Did More” talks about grinding as over an elegiac piano instrumental.

The song “Authenticated” talks about how their credibility over a hypnotic beat while the penultimate track “By Myself” gives us a glimpse of what it was like for them growing up & I really love the instrumentation gets more layered as the song progresses. The album finishes off with “Smokin’ Aces”, where everyone in Da Cloth gruesomely show us what they’re capable of as a unit for almost 8 minutes.

If you loved The Only Way Out, then you’re gonna enjoy this just as much. Not only because M.A.V. & Rob Gates’ chemistry is just so unique, but Big Ghost Ltd. also continues to show why he’s one of the best producers in hip hop today.

Score: 4/5

Conway the Machine – “No One Mourns the Wicked” review

This is the 7th EP from Buffalo emcee Conway the Machine. In case you don’t know, he‘s been running the underground for the past 5 years as 1/3 of the trio Griselda with Westside Gunn & Benny the Butcher by consistently been putting out 1 modern East Coast classic after another. Earlier this year we saw The Alchemist entirely produce La Maquina’s previous EP LULU & now just a couple months later, Big Ghost Ltd. is getting tapped on for No One Mourns the Wicked.

After the “Family Secrets” intro, we go right into the first song “Dead Flowers”. Where Conway talks about rapping what you live over a menacing guitar lead. The next track “Icon” talks his already established legacy over a demented boom bap beat while the song “Fake Love” with Elcamino sees the 2 talking about deceivers over an instrumental with these ghostly vocals hanging in the background. The track “Shark Guts” looks back at all the accomplishments of his career up to this point over a soul sample & even though Conway’s vocals slowed down for whatever reason, it works.

The song “Bricks to Mural” talks about how he’s eating now over a dusty boom bap beat & after the braggadocious “Rich” interlude, the penultimate track “S.D.L.N. (Streets Don’t Love Nobody)” vividly paints how it’s cold the hood can be over some bleak piano chords. The EP finishes off with “Sicarios”, where Conway & Flee Lord get together to talk about being hitmen over a boom bap/rock fusion.

If you loved the Griselda Ghost EP that Hall ‘N Nash dropped about 5 years ago, then I really don’t see why you wouldn’t like this as well. It literally sounds just as gruesome from Conway’s lyrics all the way down to Big Ghost’s production & both parties show why they’re currently the top dogs of the underground.

Score: 4.5/5

Big Ghost Ltd. – “Carpe Noctem” review

Big Ghost Ltd. is an anonymous online personality who blew up in 2011 as a blogger. He eventually started making beats in 2015, going on to produce projects for Hall ‘N Nash, Vic Spencer, Hus Kingpin, Crimeapple & even Ghostface Killah just to name a few. The man has started 2020 strong by releasing 3 singles in the past week & continuing the grind with his full-length debut.

After the “Division 1” intro by Lukey Cage, we get into the first song “Murder at the Opera”. Where Estee Nack, Recognize Ali, Mooch, Rigz, Asun Eastwood & Crimeapple go at people who act tough over a boom bap beat with a mesmerizing vocal sample. The next track “Goon Etiquette” by Rome Streetz, Asun & Recognize speaks for itself over a grim instrumental while “The Elegy” by Rahiem Supreme, Mooch, Rigz & Rome gets homicidal over a funereal instrumental. After the “Iz Real” interlude, the song “Fake My Death” by Recognize, Rahiem, Rome & Estee sees the 4 bragging over an Alchemist-inspired instrumental.

The track “Paper Plane Lords” by Estee, Recognize & Asun although still solid could’ve been stretched out a bit longer while the song “Gladiator School” is an epic 6 & a half minute barfest. The track “Benghazi Emporium” by Al.Divino, Estee & Rahiem gets mafioso over a dire instrumental while the song “Clyde Frazier Minks” by Crimeapple, Estee, Recognize, Rahiem, Asun, Rome, Rigz & Mooch is another epic posse cut in vein of “Gladiator School”. The song “Hate to Love” is a reminder of how impeccable Mooch & Rigz’ chemistry is similar to their latest collab album The Only Way Out & before “The Abyss” outro, the final song “Bricks in the Futon” by Asun, Recognize, Mooch, Rigz & Rome talks about pushing coke over a spiritual-like instrumental.

Of all the recent producer-curated projects, this is easily one of the best ones out right now. Big Ghost manages to fantastically showcase some of the illest lyricists in the underground currently & his production is becoming grimier with each release. There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re gonna be getting more music from him later on in the year as he said on Instagram that “this is only the beginning” & this is a great way to kick off 2020.

Score: 4/5

Mooch & Rigz – “The Only Way Out” review


This is the brand new collaborative album between New York emcees Mooch & Rigz. Who’ve been doing songs together on various projects for a few years now, but are now teaming with Big Ghost Ltd. to take it to the next level.

After the “Stuck” intro, we get into the first song “77B Savage”. Where Mooch & Rigz vividly detail life in the hood over an eerie boom bap beat. The track “3am” with M.A.V. sees the 3 describing what goes on in the late night hours over a spine-chilling instrumental while the song “Re-Up” talks about selling drugs over a boom bap beat with some twinkling keys & an orchestral sample to add the grittiness. The track “Custom Shit” lyrically speaks for itself over a psychedelic guitar lead while the song “We Took Ya Licks” gets violent over a funky bass-line & the drum playing on here is epic.

The track “Summer School” reflects on everyone who doubted them as kids over a jazzy instrumental while the song “Another Day” is somewhat reminiscent of the classic Biggie joint “Everyday Struggle”. The track “Deadbents” talks about how the duo met over some a boom bap beat with some icy keyboards while the song “Sleep wit It” gets mafioso over a grim instrumental. The track “Fall Outs” talks about learning from your mistakes over a gloomy instrumental while the song “Tit for Tat” with Tekk9 sees the 3 talking about trouble with the law from their own perspectives over a cold-blooded beat. The album then ends with “Flag Day”, which is a decent posse cut backed with a triumphant-sounding instrumental.

Personally, this is Mooch & Rigz’ best work to date. The natural chemistry between the 2 is showcased fantastically & the production that Big Ghost Ltd. brings to the table enhances their lyricism to the point where the album plays out like a movie. Really looking forward to where they’re gonna take things in 2020.

Score: 4/5