Peezy – “Free Rio” review

This is the latest full-length album from Detroit rapper Peezy. Coming up as a part of the Team Eastside collective about a decade ago, he would later go on to release about a dozen solo projects beginning with Mud Muzik in 2014. Dude just got out of prison back in February for racketeering & is now celebrating his freedom by dropping Free Rio.

“The Intro” opens up the album by saying life is good on top of a synth-induced trap beat & some bells leading into the grim 6th installment of his ongoing “I’m Good” series. “I Don’t Know” is a hyphy banger about how he don’t miss whereas the Pooh Beatz-produced title track calls for Rio da Yung OG to be released from prison. Meanwhile on “Build a Bear”, we get an stripped back trap cut about making it out the jungle just before the lively d-boy anthem “We Don’t Scam”.

He continues on to declare himself as the “Million Dollar N***a” accompanied by a glossy instrumental, but then “Perc 10” works in some strings & rubbery bass to talk about sex. The penultimate track “Rio Flow” speaks on taking over the game attached to climatic production with the closer “Good & Bad” speaks on life shit & having a more lavish sound.

Peezy is pretty much a hometown OG at this point & Free Rio might be amongst my favorite bodies of work that he’s put out yet. You should already know what you’re getting yourself into in terms of the overall sound on here, but dude’s bravado is charming as Hell.

Score: 3.5/5

Mach-Hommy – “Pray for Haiti” review

Mach-Hommy is a 38 year old MC from Newark, New Jersey breaking out in 2017 when he dropped his sophomore album H.B.O. (Haitian Body Odor) under Griselda Records. However, he & Tha God Fahim fell out with the label shortly after only for both of them to reconcile this past Christmas. But since May is Haitian Heritage Month, we have Mach marking his return to the Buffalo powerhouse by dropping his 5th full-length album to celebrate.

“The 26th Letter” is a trumpet-laced opener where Mach goes on about rearranging the whole game whereas the next song “No Blood Sweat” jumps on a pillowy Camoflauge Monk instrumental to say he taking food out cats’ mouths. Westside Gunn hops on “Folie á Deux” as he & Mach tell all the fuckboys that they’re finished over a psychedelic boom bap beat from Conductor Williams before declaring every day as Easter Gunnday on the soulful “Maxron Jaxon”.

“The Stellar Ray Theory” was a great choice for a lead single with its sax-heavy production & the lyrics about cats “blaming clouds on the rain & the sky” while he gets in his storytelling bag on “Marie” & I love the “Hail Mary” tribute in the hook. After the “Leta Yo” skit, Mach vents that he keeps seeing Deedee & Stevie in his naps with Nicholas Craven providing him with a bass guitar & a vocal loop for “Kriminel” just before declaring that he’s in his bag on the Sadhugold-produced “Pen Rale”.

“Murder Czn” with Westside Gunn of course a melancholic cut using for blood while Tha God Fahim tags along for the rich “Magnum Band” to help talk about having 357 on deck. The back & forth chemistry between Mach & Westside on the piano-tinged “Rami” is fantastic & after the “Kreyol” skit, the song “Au Revoir” goes into a more rock direction with the help of DJ Green Lantern as well as lyrics going at “pussy n****s”. The penultimate track “Blockchain” has a slowed down jazz sample throughout as Mach explains that there’s too many information highway cats riding the wave & then “10 Boxes: Sin Eater” is a dusty finisher saying he’s been wavy.

As much as I really enjoyed Pray for Paris, I can argue that Pray for Haiti is one of those immensely rare instances where the sequel album is better than the predecessor. We get a good look into Mach-Hommy’s Haitian roots whilst sticking to the raw lo-fi aesthetics we’ve all come to know & love from him.

Score: 4.5/5

The Alchemist – “This Thing of Ours” review

This is the 9th EP from Beverly Hills producer, DJ & emcee The Alchemist. Coming up as 1/2 of The Whooliganz in 1993 with Scott Caan, the disbanded a year later after recording a debut album that eventually got shelved & Scott went onto acting. Mudfoot however, quickly established himself as a household name in hip hop production by working with a handful of the culture’s most iconic names ranging from Mobb Deep to Eminem. Last thing we heard from him solo wise was The Food Villain back in October & after producing the new Armand Hammer album Haram to universal acclaim last month, Uncle Al is staying busy by amassing 6 emcees for This Thing of Ours.

The opener “Nobles” weaves in a Sun Ra sample as Navy Blue & Earl Sweatshirt trade bars back & forth with one another while the next song “TV Dinners” is a bit oxymoronic with it’s calming instrumental along with Boldy James & Sideshow declaring themselves as soldiers through the lyrics. The penultimate track “Holy Hell” by Maxo & Pink Siifu goes on about the devil wanting their souls over a guitar & a vocal sample before Earl returns to talk about people nickel & diming on the trumpet-heavy closer “Loose Change”.

Not the best EP we’ve heard from The Alchemist, but still an enjoyable listen. His production is a lot more chilled out in comparison to Haram & despite a couple of the guest MCs providing weak verses, most of them do what they do best.

Score: 3.5/5

Khrysis – “The Hour of Khrysis” review

Khrysis is a 39 year old producer & occasional MC from Durham, North Carolina coming up 1/2 of the duo The Away Team alongside Sean Boog. He’s also a key member of Jamla Records’ in-house production team The Soul Council, lacing a chockfull of albums for the label up to this point. But with 4 solo albums under his belt already, Khrysis is celebrating 4/20 by dropping a 5th one.

The opener “Never Change” is actually Khrysis himself spitting about always staying true over some bongos & a guitar, but then the next song “Granted” by Mumu Fresh is literally her expressing hope that she doesn’t get taken for granted over a funky instrumental with some popping drums. The song “Delta9” by Geechi Suede is of course about getting stoned & the instrumental has a trippier edge to it, but then “Mr. Big Mouth II” by De La Soul goes into a boom bap direction as the trio deliver a sequel to “Big Mouth” off their 2009 mixtape Are You In?.

The Away Team reunite like they haven’t stopped working together on the keyboard-laced “The Return” & then “Why?” by Problem is about being clueless towards the haters he has on top of a soul sample & some militant drums. The song “Asylum” by Evidence is more synth-induced as he spits about being an original gentleman, but then “Colombian Necktie” returns to the boom bap sound as Niko Is delivers one of the more underwhelming performances on the album.

“The Code” by Chi-Ali is a jazzier cut that’s about him being happy to be released from prison after murdering his ex-girlfriend’s brother while “The Devil Wears Designer” by Reuben Vincent is about a deceitful woman over a horn-inflicted beat. “Negro Spiritual” finds Khrysis joining Busta Rhymes & Pharoahe Monch has a crooning vocal sample in the back as the trio spit that Black Power shit, but then “The Disrespect” by Rapsody & Sa-Roc goes into that College Dropout sound as the 2 go in about being disrespected.

The penultimate track “Keep on Walkin’” by Del the Funky Homosapien is a piano-boom bap banger about how nobody owes you shit & then the album finishes off with “Be Alright”, which is Khrysis himself hopping on top of a soul-tinged Eric G. instrumental to spit about working too hard for earn loyalty.

In comparison to his previous solo efforts, I think this is Khrysis’ best one yet. There are only a couple guests I could’ve done without, but almost every one of them delivery fiery performances as the dude presents a well-tuned showcasing of what he’s capable of doing behind the boards with a dash of his MC skills every here & there.

Score: 4/5

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

RiFF RAFF & Yelawolf – “TURQUOiSE TORNADO” review

This is a brand new collaborative EP between Houston rapper RiFF RAFF along with Alabama rapper, singer, songwriter, fashion designer & entrepreneur Yelawolf. Both of whom came up in 2011, except one of them was a former reality star & the other being an Eminem protege. Even though Catfish Billy saw much success with Shady Records (most notably the albums Radioactive: Amazing & Mystifying Chemical Tricks as well as Love Story & Trial by Fire), it wasn’t until 2014 when JODY HiGHROLLER dropped his full-length debut NEON iCON under Mad Decent. Their paths first crossed last summer when Yelawolf was featured on RiFF RAFF’s previous album VåNiLLå GöRiLLå but they’re trying to take it to the next level by joining forces for TURQUOiSE TORNADO.

“MOSSY OAK” is an ass-kicking opener as both parties express their fondness for the outdoor lifestyle company of the same name & the DJ Paul instrumental is the epitome of evil. The next track “HUMAN LAMBORGHiNi” has a plinky trap instrumental with the duo comparing themselves to the titular luxury car, but the Danny Swift verse is wack & Peso Peso’s verse at the beginning of “MONCLER JACKET” is no better. Except on here, he joins RiFF RAFF & Yelawolf to talk about making $1M over some hi-hats & a slick bass-line.

The song “ALCOHOL & WEED” is of course a party anthem with a Struggle Jennings verse that makes up for the features we heard on the last 2 cuts & an atmospheric trap instrumental whereas the title track taps in Paul Wall to freestyle about materialism with a somewhat quirky beat. The penultimate track is a mediocre 4th installment to “TiP TOE WiNG iN MY JAWWDiNZ” with an awkward 80’s synth-wave instrumental but then the EP finishes off strong with “MiLLiON DOLLAR MULLET”, which contains some of the flashiest lyricism on the entire thing & the Ronny J production is so gargantuan.

Even though I like TURQUOiSE TORNADO more than I did Yelawolf Blacksheep, it isn’t by a whole lot. I think Yelawolf has a much better chemistry with RiFF RAFF than he did with Caskey, but they kinda overdid it on the features & they can be hit or miss.

Score: 3/5

Benny the Butcher – “The Plugs I Met II” review

Benny the Butcher is a 36 year old MC from Buffalo, New York who’s been making music since 2004. However, it wouldn’t be until 2016 where he alongside his cousins Westside Gunn & Conway the Machine would take the culture by storm off projects like Tana Talk 3 & The Plugs I Met. He just dropped his Hit-Boy produced sophomore album Burden of Proof this past fall & as the 2 year anniversary of The Plugs I Met approaches this summer, Benny is enlisting Harry Fraud for the sequel EP.

The EP kicks off with “When Tony Met Sosa”, where Benny talks about how the rap game saved him over a jazzy beat. The next song “Overall” with the late Chinx sees the 2 talking about winning over a grimy instrumental while the track “Plug Talk“ with 2 Chainz finds the pair talking about how they address drug shit in interviews over some harmonious background vocals hanging behind their verses. The song “Live by It” talks about living & dying by the gun over an uncanny instrumental while the track “Talkin’ Back” with Fat Joe sees the 2 responding to everything from dope money to the streets over a flute-tinged beat.

The song “No Instructions” talks about how there’s no rules to the drug game over a poignant boom bap instrumental while the track “Longevity” with French Montana & Jim Jones finds the trio talking about making sure their cash is the strongest over an alluring beat. The song “Survivor’s Remorse” with Rick Hyde sees the 2 talking about how they could’ve died or wound up in jail over a dirgelike instrumental & then the closer “Thanksgiving” tells the rap game to be grateful for him over a soul sample & an organ.

The Plugs I Met is a crown achievement in Benny’s catalog & this sequel is almost as enjoyable as the predecessor. In comparison to the mature & polished vibes that Burden of Proof gave off, he & Harry Fraud take things into much more darker territory as the dark production & the harsh realities The Butcher paints mesh well with one another.

Score: 4/5

Payroll Giovanni – “Another Day, Another Dollar” review

Payroll Giovanni is a 32 year old rapper from Detroit, Michigan who came up about a decade ago as a member of the Doughboyz Cashout collective. He’s also released a total of 8 solo albums, most notable being the Cardo-produced Big Bossin’ & Big Bossin’ 2. But just a month after the 3 year anniversary of the latter, the pair are reuniting for the 4th time to put out Payroll’s 9th full-length effort.

The album kicks off with “Previously”, where Payroll recaps everything that’s happened to him in the past 3 years over a West Coast-flavored beat. The next song “It’s Around” talks about making himself a boss over a nightly instrumental while the track “Eyez Closed” talks about counting money like it’s nothing over a beat with a more Bay Area influence to it. The song “Always Hustling” talks about never slowing down over a smooth instrumental while the track “Mob $hit” with Larry June sees the 2 talking about what they be on over a ritzy beat.

The song “Everyday” talks about grinding nonstop over a straight up g-funk instrumental while the track “Make It Look Easy” talks about going from rags to riches over a delicate beat. The song “Game Showed Me” talks about dudes being iffy to him over a keyboard-heavy instrumental while the penultimate track “Pay & Cardo” talks about giving the listeners what they want over an atmospheric beat. The closer “Forever Flow” then talks about how his grandma used to give him money to flip over a synth-heavy beat.

Payroll always puts out his best material whenever he hooks up with Cardo & this is a great follow-up to Big Bossin’ 2. I really dig how both parties took it back to the 90’s West Coast gangsta rap era from the overall sound of the album to the lyrics & for those who aren’t familiar with Payroll, it’s almost like you’d think he’s actually from Southern California.

Score: 4/5

Curren$y – “Collection Agency” review

This is the 21st EP from New Orleans veteran Curren$y. Getting his start with No Limit Records in 2002, would then hop over to Young Money Entertainment & Cash Money Records in 2006 before branching out in 2008 with his own label Jet Life Recordings. He has made a name for himself by dropping a handful of projects every single year, the most recent being an EP trilogy with Harry Fraud that was released throughout the 2nd half of 2020. However 3 months later, we’re diving right into Collection Agency.

The EP starts out with “Kush Through the Sunroof”, where Spitta talks about being in an armored Mercedes over a bluesy trap beat from Trauma Tone. The next song “Smiled on Me” talks about his ancestors looking down on him from above over a glamorous instrumental from DJ Fresh while the track “Arrival” talks about pulling up stoned over a jazzy beat from Harry Fraud himself. The song “I Don’t Call” talks about the shit he has that never uses over a synth-laced trap instrumental from Purps while the track “Jermaine Dupri” boasts over a glossy beat.

The song “Closing Date” gets in his shit-talking bag over a smoked out instrumental while the track “Shout Out” with Larry June finds the 2 showing love to the real over a comatose beat. The song “Ferrari Engine” talks about leaving the block trembling over a stripped-back instrumental while the penultimate track “Above the Law” talks about how they don’t want a war over a soul sample provided by Rrsonist of The Heatmakerz. The EP finishes off with “Misty”, where Curren$y talks about how the Chevy’s on switches over a trap beat with some horns laced in.

It’s not one of my favorite projects Spitta has ever put out, but I do find Collection Agency to be an enjoyable EP for the most part. He still manages to do a good job at balancing quantity & quality as his flows are still silky smooth this deep into his career & his ear for production remains top notch.

Score: 3.5/5

Jim Jones – “The Fraud Department” review

Jim Jones is a 44 year old rapper from The Bronx, New York who came up in as a member of The Diplomats in the 2000s. His first 5 full-lengths from 2004-2011 had some highlights in them, but they were all average at best as whole albums. However it wouldn’t be until 2018 after dropping Wasted Talent where he would really start putting out his best material ever & then came out with his magnum opus the following year El Capo. But just 3 months after putting out the sequel El Capo 2, we’re already being treated to Jimmy’s 9th full-length album produced entirely by Harry Fraud.

The opener “Laps Around the Sun” talks about being grateful over a bare flute instrumental whereas the next song “Fucked Up” is about a lil bitch who got her perception of Jimmy wrong over some harmonizing & a saxophone. The track “Aunt Viola” with Dave East finds the duo talking waiting your turn & then turning tables over an airy trap beat while the song “Lose Lose” talks about his success over a soul sample & some snares.

The track “Bada Bing” with French Montana sees the 2 on their gangsta shit over a rubbery beat while the song “Barry White” talks about turning the hood into a paradise over a ghostly instrumental. The track “Say a Prayer” with Curren$y & Jay Worthy finds the trio talking about hustling on the block over a triumphant beat while “The People” with Conway the Machine sees the 2 talking about George Floyd’s murder over a boom bap instrumental with a haunting vocal sample.

The track “Luxury Lies” shows his doubters what he can do over a jubilant beat while song “3 Cuts” with Maino finds the duo on their fly shit over some exuberant horns. The album finishes off with “Make It Home”, where Jimmy talks about his fallen homies over a boom bap beat with some dour keys.

It’s very rare for artists to be putting out their best material later in their careers, but this puts Jimmy on a 3-peat because I like The Fraud Department almost as much as El Capo & El Capo 2. Harry Fraud comes correct on the production as he usually does & when it comes to Jimmy’s lyrics, it seems like this isn’t even his final form.

Score: 4/5