This is the 10th full-length album from Port Huron emcee/producer Substance810. Coming up in ‘06 off his debut The Definition under his original moniker Tekneek, he’s since gone on to build up an impressive catalog for himself whether it be the sequel The Definition Of… or the Hobgoblin-produced The Hanging Gardens. He just dropped the Onaje Jordan-produced A Righteous Offering back in the fall & now 6 months later, Substance is enlisting Chuck Chan to produce Desolate Lands in it’s entirety.
The title track sets the album up by asking how many times he & Chuck gotta give listeners that raw over a calming instrumental whereas the Josiah the Gift-assisted “Substantial” throws in a pillowy boom bap beat talking about making music with substance. Pro Dillinger tags along for the soulful “Thrill of the Hunt” advising that you can’t escape them, but then Dango Forlaine & Mickey Diamond come into the picture for the dusty “Noteworthy” ripping their opposition to shreds.
Meanwhile on “Nomads”, we have King Author joining Substance810 on top of a lush drumless loop keeping the battle raps going just before “Forever Forage” works in an orchestral boom bap instrumental wanting to know who the most potent is. After the titular interlude, “Pompeii” asks what’s really left to say over a hazy beat prior to “Dead Flowers” throwing a sick guitar lead talking about wising up.
The song “Block Spill” with King Micah the Infamous & Philmore Greene finds the trio going into jazzier territory talking about how it be in the streets while the penultimate track Staircases” with Supreme Cerebral has a more orchestral sound admitting that the light at the end of the tunnel is hard to see. “Coming Home” then ends the album with a horn-laced tribute to his hometown of Port Huron.
As much as I loved Chess Pieces, I happen to dig Desolate Lands a little bit more by a small margin. Substance’s lyricism continues to get more intense with each passing project Chuck Chan’s production is a lot more eclectic this time around.