Conway the Machine – “What Has Been Blessed Cannot Be Cursed” review

This is the 11th EP from Buffalo emcee & entrepreneur Conway the Machine. Blowing up in late 2015 as part of the 3 OGs of Griselda Records alongside his brother Westside Gunn & their cousin Benny the Butcher. Ever since the trio have rose to prominence, they’ve had hip hop lock by their constant work ethic balancing quality & quality as well as vividly detailing their lives in the streets on top of boom bap production kin to that of RZA & Havoc in their music. Con’s full-length debut From King to a God was my Album of the Year for 2020 & just dropped his Shady Records-backed sophomore effort God Don’t Make Mistakes back in February, which is the most personal he’s ever been. He just dropped Organized Grime 2 a few weeks ago & is reuniting with Big Ghost Ltd. for What Has Been Blessed Cannot Be Cursed.

“Salutations” is a grim opener talking about whacking motherfuckers whereas “It’s a Green Light works in a piano & a harp admitting that he’s more confident than ever. “Bodie Broadus” takes a richer albeit drumless route calling out those who waited until he blew up to reach out to him leading into Jae Skeese tagging along for bloodcurdling “In My Soul” talking about people wanting them gone. “Y.B.C.M. (Your Bitch Chose Me)” goes into more soulful territory saying they know the game just before “Why You Ain’t Move on Me?” eerily gets on his murder shit.

Meanwhile on “Sunday Sermon”, we have Conway reuniting with Jae Skeese to go back & forth with each other over yet another soul sample bragging about their legendary status while the song “Scared II Death” with Method Man is a ghoulish boom bap banger taking a shot at those who be afraid of them. The final song “Big Drum” comes through with yet another Drumwork posse cut except he’s showcasing damn new the full roster at this point & “Dog Food” ends the EP with an outro from the skit gawd himself Lukey Cage.

No One Mourns the Wicked & If It Bleeds It Can Be Killed have quickly become some of the best EPs that Con have put out yet, so I had very high hopes going into into What Has Been Blessed Cannot Be Cursed & I’m very satisfied with it. As raw as Organized Grime 2 was, the production from Big Ghost Ltd. is much spookier & Con’s lyricism remains unmatched in today’s hip hop climate.

Score: 4.5/5

Conway the Machine – “Organized Grime 2” review

Conway the Machine is a 40 year old MC & entrepreneur from Buffalo, New York who blew up in late 2015 as part of the 3 OGs of Griselda Records alongside his brother Westside Gunn & their cousin Benny the Butcher. Ever since the trio have rose to prominence, they’ve had hip hop lock by their constant work ethic balancing quality & quality as well as vividly detailing their lives in the streets on top of boom bap production kin to that of RZA & Havoc in their music. Con’s full-length debut From King to a God was my Album of the Year for 2020 & just dropped his Shady Records-backed sophomore effort God Don’t Make Mistakes back in February, which is the most personal he’s ever been. But to celebrate his freedom from Eminem-owned Interscope Records imprint, La Maquina is reuniting with Trillmatic Goods to host his 10th EP.

After the rock-tinged intro, the first song “Chop 22” kicks off the EP with a lavish Mephux instrumental with Con declaring he’s still on go time whereas the soulful “Phone Call” produced by Detroit’s very own Apollo Brown talking about earning everything he has from hustling. Rome Streetz tags along for “Murder He Wrote” to advise you don’t push them backed by a ghoulish boom bap beat from Hobgoblin leading into Benny the Butcher & Flee Lord coming into the picture for the cloudy “Marathon” talking about running it on the blocks.

After the “Intermission” interlude, the 2nd half of the EP starts off with the cinematic “State” reminding that he’s the illest rapper alive just before the organ-laced “From the Bottom” reflecting on coming up from nothing. The penultimate song “Soul Cry” with T.F. finds the 2 over some horns talking about never capping & prior to the turntablism outro, “Keep Up” with Vic Spencer ends the EP on a jazzy note pointing out that they can’t keep up with them.

Organized Grime is one of the best EPs that Conway has ever put out in my opinion & I happen to think this sequel is even better than it’s predecessor. In comparison to the much more personal approach that God Don’t Make Mistakes took, Con sounds a lot more rawer lyrically & some of the best producers in the underground currently went as hard as he did behind the boards.

Score: 4.5/5

7xvethegenius – “Self 7xve 2” review

This is the 5th EP from Buffalo emcee 7xvethegenius. Breaking out a couple years ago off her first 2 EPs The Calm Before & Self 7xve as well as the full-length debut 7xve is Love, it wasn’t until she & Jae Skeese both became the first artists to sign with Conway the Machine’s very own EMPIRE Distribution imprint Drumwork Music Group where 7xve got her biggest break yet. Last we heard from her was over the summer when he dropped Thy Will Be Done during my first night at last year’s Gathering of the Juggalos & now in light of Skeese dropping his Big Ghost Ltd.-produced magnum opus Authenticity Check a little over a week ago, 7xve is stepping up to the plate with Self 7xve 2.

“Waves” kicks off the EP by cinematically talking about how crazy her life’s been up to this point whereas the bassy, yet flute-tinged “Affluence” follows it up by declaring that she’s cut from a different cloth. Trae tha Truth tags along for the wavy “Always Thank God” encouraging listeners to give their praise to the higher power, but then “Fluidity” brings back to the woodwinds to bring the smoke.

The song “Forecast” with Flee Lord sees the pair over some boom bap production from JR Swiftz advising to stay true to the game while the penultimate track “Back End” works in some jazzy undertones talking about fucking shit up with her partner. “Moxie” then ends the EP with a somber piano ballad putting her life up to this point on wax.

Of all the sequel projects in hip hop that have lived up to the hype set by the predecessor or even surpassed it, you can definitely add Self 7xve 2 onto that list. I really admire how she decided take it back to basics & enhance everything that I liked about the first one. Most notably also, the inclusion of features was actually a really nice move as they bring their on flavor to the tracklist.

Score: 3.5/5

Jae Skeese – “Authenticity Check” review

Jae Skeese is a 31 year old MC from Buffalo, New York who first emerged in 2010 off his debut mixtape W.A.C.K. (Women, Alcohol, Cash & Kicks). However, it wasn’t until a decade later where he & 7xvethegenius got their biggest break thus far after the very first signees to Conway the Machine’s very own EMPIRE Distribution imprint Drumwork Music Group. He just dropped his 7th mixtape Revolver Ocelot over the fall & then his 2nd EP Iroquois Pliskin a couple weeks ago, but is now tapping in with Big Ghost Ltd. to produce his 3rd EP from top to bottom.

“Shuttlesworth Form” is a creepy boom bap opener reintroducing himself whereas “Premium Grails” continues to flex his lyrical abilities & the groove of the bass happens to be my favorite part of the instrumental here. “Double Nickel at MSG” takes a more chilling route as far as sound goes talking about big stepping just before “Drip or Drown” works in a guitar & some dusty drums explaining that he’s in over his head.

Meanwhile on “Triple Post Offense”, we have Con & 7xve assisting Jae for a stellar Drumwork posse cut with an interesting vocal sample while the song “Stick-Up” reveals itself to be a perfect ode to muggin’ from the raw beat to the “Gimme the Loot” sample around the 43 second mark. The penultimate track “Vintage Eastbay Pages” encourages listeners to staying committed to making that bread over some vibraphones & “$1.50 wit Tax” admits how crazy his life has been when you really think about it over a shimmering instrumental.

Now for those who loved Jae’s verse on “Drumwork” & you’re looking to get into his music, then I’d recommend starting with Authenticity Check because I happen to look at it as the crown jewel of his discography thus far. In comparison to Iroquois Pliskin he’s at his best lyrically & the production that Big Ghost Ltd. brings to the table is incredibly consistent.

Score: 4.5/5

Conway the Machine – “God Don’t Make Mistakes” review

This is the long-awaited Shady Records album from Buffalo emcee/entrepreneur Conway the Machine. Blowing up in late 2015 as part of the 3 OGs of Griselda Records alongside his brother Westside Gunn & their cousin Benny the Butcher, the trio have had hip hop lock by their constant work ethic balancing quality & quality as well as vividly detailing their lives in the streets on top of boom bap production kin to that of RZA & Havoc in their music. Con’s full-length debut From King to a God was my Album of the Year for 2020 & last year, we were treated to his 8th EP If It Bleeds It Can Be Killed produced entirely by Big Ghost Ltd. & his 11th mixtape La Maquina. But in light of Conway announcing earlier this week that he’ll be amicably departing Shady & Griselda to focus on his very own label Drumwork Music Group, what better way to fulfill his contracts than to drop God Don’t Make Mistakes?

“Lock Load” starts off the album with Beanie Sigel & Conway talking about always carrying a strap on them on top of a spooky Daringer instrumental whereas “Tear Gas” with Lil Wayne & Rick Ross works in a high-pitched vocal sample calling out those who weren’t there for them when they needed them most. “Piano Love” of course brings in a dreary piano instrumental from The Alchemist talking about being the richest in Buffalo, but then “Drumwork” is pretty much “Crack in the 90s” & “Sister Abigail” on steroids.

Meanwhile on “Wild Chapters”, we have T.I. joining Conway on top of a dispirited boom bap beat from Hit-Boy talking about the story of their lives just before the Bink!-produced “Guilty” goes into soulful turf encouraging to focus on his lyricism than his appearance. “John Woo Flick” follows it up with a disgusting Griselda posse cut in the same vein as “Spurs 3” leading into the spacious boom bap banger “Stressed” pondering if anyone cares about his mental well being.

“So Much More” encourages listeners not to “let ’em tell you 1 side of the story” on top of angelic vocal loop provided by the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League while the Jill Scott-duet “Chanel Pearls” gets on some smooth Bonnie & Clyde shit. The penultimate song “Babas” incorporates some organs talking about going from king to a god (no pun intended) & the title track finishes the album off by airing out all these questions he has with The Alchemist providing a lush musical backdrop.

Conway’s been hyping this up for a good minute now & for it to be his final Griselda project as well as the only one on Shady, we got ourselves an early album of the year contender & some of the best work of his career. The production is superb, the features are all well picked out & it’s amazing how personal he’s getting on here. I wish him all the best on his own.

Score: 4.5/5

Jae Skeese – “Revolver Ocelot” review

Jae Skeese is a 31 year old MC from Buffalo, New York who first emerged in 2010 off his debut mixtape W.A.C.K. (Women, Alcohol, Cash & Kicks). However, it wasn’t until a decade later where he & 7xvethegenius got their biggest break thus far after the very first signees to Conway the Machine’s very own EMPIRE Distribution imprint Drumwork Music Group. But with only a few dates left on the Love Will Get You Killed Tour, he’s dropping a precursor to his upcoming sophomore effort Abolished Uncertainties in the form of his 7th mixtape.

“Seek/Find” is a soulful, jazzy boom bap opener about how he translates what he sees into music whereas “No Bricks, No Airs, No Rimmys” works in some vibraphones & harmonizing to look for the perfect shot on his opponents. Conway the Machine & OG Sole come into the picture for the vibrant, shit-talking trap banger “Chessmen” leading into the Loveboat Luciano-assisted “Calm Bapes” which feels like something out of a perfect crime flick.

Meanwhile on “Stolen Benz”, we have Toney Boi joining Jae Skeese on top of a smooth instrumental to call out those who weren’t there for them when they needed it just before “EKIN” brings in a bare vocal loop to flex his lyrical prowess for a minute & a half. “Grindin’” serves as an ode to his dedication with a psychedelic Camoflauge Monk beat while the song “She Threw Her 4’s Up” tells the story of a woman he met & I love the enticing sample throughout.

The penultimate track “Mandarin Manuscript” has a bit of a futuristic boom bap sound with the help of none other than JR Swiftz as Jae comparing his music to that of fine art & “All In” with 7xvethegenius is a jazzy finisher to the tape motivating the listener by reminding them it’s either all or nothing. Conway only pops up at the end delivering a spoken word bit about Drumwork taking over the industry which I wasn’t expecting, but it’s still really cool.

If you loved his verses on “Crack in the 90’s” & “Sister Abigail”, then I think you’re really gonna dig this tape. It’s a proper way to reintroduce himself to the new fans as he basically guides you through as to who he is personally & artistically. At this rate, Abolished Uncertainties is destined to be the crown jewel of Jae Skeese’s discography.

Score: 3.5/5

Lucky 7 – “Lucky & the Laser Gun” review

Lucky 7 is a 35 year old MC/producer from Buffalo, New York who I first started noticing after he laced what I personally believe is one of the mort underrated Conway the Machine singles ever: “Temple”. But he’s dropped a total 2 albums, a mixtape & 3 EPs since then before signing to Drumwork Music Group over the spring of this year. And now with only 8 dates left on the Love Will Get You Killed Tour, it’s only right for Lucky to prelude his upcoming debut on Con’s very own EMPIRE imprint with his 4th EP.

After the intro, the first song “Nuke Dropper” works in a blaring boom bap instrumental to tell his opposition to get the fuck out of his way whereas “You Gotta Make It” has a more uptempo vibe encouraging listeners to getting theirs. “Motorbike Music” takes a more luscious turn with Luck & Elcamino proclaiming themselves as rebels, but then Flee Lord tags along for the morbid “Orange Soda” talking about their young shooters.

Meanwhile on “Metal Arm Tesuo”, we have Luck & Jae Skeese wickedly bragging about their extraordinary skills leading into “Kaneda Loves Kei” soulfully pays tribute to his lady. The song “Snoopy’s Penthouse” smoothly details the lavish lifestyle while the penultimate track “Playgrounds” has a more grimier sound with the help of Stu Bangas & Elcamino returning to help shoutout those who’ve been there since the beginning. “Goodbye to Your Life” ends with some strings & lyrics about getting the millions if you follow him.

Coming away from Lucky & the Laser Gun, it’s definitely a solid precursor to Lasertron Arcade. I think the anime concept is well executed, I fuck with the wide range of emotions throughout it’s 24 minute run & how Lucky brought in some fresh faces behind the boards for him to showcase his penmanship to new listeners.

Score: 4/5

SK da King – “Horus” review

SK da King is a 31 year old MC from Baltimore, Maryland who came up as part of the Checkered Flag Boyz under the original moniker Paul Skola. However, it wasn’t until this past spring where he signed to Conway the Machine’s recently formed Drumwork Music Group as a solo act. And since the whole crew is starting to hit the road for the Love Will Get You Killed Tour tomorrow, it’s only right for SK to drop a debut EP to get new listeners familiar with him.

The opener “I’m God” starts off with a slowed down vocal sample that later transitions into a rich trap instrumental talking about rising to the throne whereas “Blood in My Eye” works in some strings to say he was made for this rap shit. “Dancing Wit the Devil” takes a much more darker approach detailing his lifestyle just before “Actions” calls out those putting on a front.

Meanwhile on “Different”, we have SK delivering an uplifting ode to turning a new page leading into the celebratory “Winners”. The song “P.M.D.” is another upbeat cut talking about doing it on his own while the penultimate track “Ventin’” gets confessional with an instrumental soothing to the ear. “Horus Flow” ends the album with a more minimal sound flexing his lyrical abilities.

Cloud 9: The Update was cool tape, but I think Horus is SK at his best so far & I can’t wait to hear how he’ll carry that over for a full-length capacity because this would be an ideal place for new listeners to start. He sounds a lot more hungrier lyrically & the production sounds crisper too.

Score: 3.5/5

7xvethegenius – “Thy Will Be Done” review

7xvethegenius is a 31 year old MC from Buffalo, New York breaking out a couple years ago off her debut EP The Calm Before & the full-length album 7xve is Love. This was followed up with the Self 7xve EP & then this past winter, she & Jae Skeese both became the first artists that Conway the Machine would sign to his newly formed Drumwork Music Group. Now since 7xve’s sophomore album albeit Drumwork debut Death of Deuce on the way, she’s preluding it by dropping her 3rd EP.

“Tunechi” is a trap-flavored opener produced by Chup with 7xve & Armani Caesar telling motherfuckers to ask about them whereas “Payback” has an atmospheric boom bap tone speaking on her family. “Roses” goes into jazz territory addressing her lover just before “Marching” returns to that trap sound talking her shit.

The song “Psalm” with Jae Skeese takes it back into jazz turf with the help of Camoflauge Monk saying they out their lives on wax while the penultimate track “If I” with Heem meditatively tells the good they can be anything. Finally, the closer “Bailey Ave” luxuriously pays homage to the street that she came up from.

I feel like this chick has only been getting better within the last 8 months or so. Everything from 7xve’s songwriting to the production choices have improved significantly in comparison to her previous efforts. At this rate, Death of Deuce could very well be her best work yet.

Score: 3.5/5

Conway the Machine – “La Maquina” review

Conway the Machine is a 39 year old MC & entrepreneur from Buffalo, New York who blew up in late 2015 as part of the 3 OGs of Griselda Records alongside his brother Westside Gunn & their cousin Benny the Butcher. Ever since the trio have rose to prominence, they’ve had hip hop lock by their constant work ethic balancing quality & quality as well as vividly detailing their lives in the streets on top of boom bap production kin to that of RZA & Havoc in their music. Con’s full-length debut From King to a God was my Album of the Year for 2020 & his sophomore effort with Big Ghost Ltd. that just came out a couple months ago If It Bleeds It Can Be Killed is a worthy sequel to No One Mourns the Wicked. But just when even thought we were getting the Shady Records-backed God Don’t Make Mistakes next, we’re getting another prelude album out of the woodwork.

“Bruiser Brody” is a a grimy opener from the boom bap production from JR Swiftz to the lyrics calling out those who pray on his downfall whereas the Bangladesh-produced “6:30 Tip Off” is a jazz-trap fusion speaking on his profit. The song “Blood Roses” is about how “I came to prove I came improved” with a spiritual beat from Cardiak, but then “Clarity” opens up on how he spares “no feelings when my pen is movin’” on top of a soulful trap instrumental from Don Cannon.

The track “KD” has a weepy trap instrumental from Murda Beatz with lyrics talks about those speaking on Conway’s legacy while “200 Pies” with 2 Chainz of course gets on that pusher shit & the bare loop that The Alchemist comes through with is hypnotic as fuck. “Sister Abigail” is a dusty boom bap tune where The Machine recruits his new protégés Jae Skeese & 7xvethegenius for a homage to The Fiend’s signature move of the same name, but then Jae returns on the peppily-produced “Grace” to talk about how they don’t live in disguise to get their blessings.

The song “Scatterbrain” brings in J.I.D & Ludacris to get murderous on top of a frigid instrumental, but then Elcamino & Shots hop on Had to Hustle” to speak on what they had to do to get where they are now. The closer “S.E. Gang” serves as a response to those who said Conway was leaving Griselda earlier this year as he, Westside Gunn & Benny the Butcher spit that mafioso shit over a flute sample from Daringer.

Not what I was expecting from Conway, but still a dope album regardless. In comparison to him returning to a more grimier sound on If It Bleeds It Can Be Killed, I like how he continues to build off the the versatility that From King to a God brought. Whenever the time for God Don’t Make Mistakes comes, I’ll be more than ready to hear where he takes it.

Score: 4/5