This is the 4th full-length album from Toronto emcee Saipher Soze. Emerging up as a part of the Brown Bag Money collective, he eventually went solo on 2017 with Godbody & then Kanibull Rising just 10 months after that. Last we heard from him was in the fall of 2020 where he dropped the super solid Eat What You Kill produced by Futurewave & Finn, but is re-emerging to let Sibbs Roc behind the boards throughout Velvet Hammer.
“Lion Paw” starts it all off with a boom bap instrumental that’s sweet to the ear as Soze admitting that he doesn’t blame anyone for dreading his bars & having a lot whereas “Rebelz” works in some synthesizers talking about being the last ones to do it. Pro Dillinger tags along for the piano-inflicted “Pray for Me” reminding that their skin is tougher than leather just before “Princeton 10” has a more jazzier flare to it talking about how the goal is to never fold.
Meanwhile on “Uptown Swing”, we have Daniel Son coming into the picture keeping things in jazz territory to discuss moving cautiously & leaving them with nothing leading into “Kings Gambit” solemnly returns to the boom bap warning that those who bump heads with him won’t survive. “Overkill” dives into more atmospheric turf comparing himself to a dog on a leash being let go, but then “Fly Guys” with Falcon Outlaw has a more slicker groove to it talking about how fly both of them are.
The song “Only Champions” with Philly Regs & Richie416 is a guitar/boom bap blend speaking on not looking both ways when shade is thrown while the penultimate track “Young Mowgli” has a more symphonic feel talking about being raised by the pack. “Speed Racer” with Snackz however ends the album with 1 last jazz rap cut & both MCs chasing the green.
It was only a matter of time before these guys linked up & in the end, Saipher’s first album in 2 years serves as an impressive comeback from the BBM member. Lyrically, he sounds fully recharged as he takes you through the hardships that he’s lived with Sibbs Roc’s jazzy yet boom bap production being amongst the greatest that he’s cooked up thus far. If it takes another 2 years for Soze to drop, then I wouldn’t even complain.
UFO Fev is a 38 year old MC from Harlem, New York who came up in 2014 off his full-length debut Around My Way. But wasn’t until 2020 when he saw his biggest year yet by dropping not 1 but 3 well received projects: the Statik Selektah-produced sophomore effort Fresh Air along with the Termanology-produced debut EP From El Barrio, With Love & the Big Ghost Ltd.-produced 3rd album The Ghost of Albizu. This was all followed up with Magnum Opus along with the Vanderslice-produced Enigma of Dalí & 4 EPs: The Most High, Prayer, Weed & Music, E Pluribus Unum & more recently Sunsets in the Ghetto. But for his 6th full-length over here, Fev’s enlisting Finn of the Brown Bag Money collective behind the boards from start to finish.
“A1 Credit” is a gully opener where Fev comes out to admit that he don’t need any credit & that he ain’t slept-on until Pro Dillinger tags along for the jazzy “Drop the Needle” talking about not freezing when the world gets too cold for ya. LRed Inf then comes into the picture for the boom bap-heavy “Check the Balance” going in depth of doing it for the love & doing just that when they wake up whereas “Wash the Bills” takes a more drumless route talking about being a hustler.
However on “Drug Free”, we have Fev over a bare sample explaining how badly the crack epidemic impacted his community leading into the Ty Farris-assisted “Tax Man” returning to the boom bap letting y’all know it’s about respect rather than money. “Caged Birds” has a more mellow sound to it venting about life going on & on, but then “Left vs. Right” goes chipmunk soul detailing a conflict with both hands. The track “Watch What You Say” pretty much says it all over a somber yet dusty beat & prior to the spoken word outro “Words of Wisdom”, the gully “Keep Spending” with Saipher Soze truly sends off the album with the 2 MCs about how drug dealing is essentially an American past time.
Fev’s last 4 EPs have been hit or miss with me personally, but it just goes without saying that Blood on the Bills wipes the floor & will go down as one of his best projects much like Fresh Air or The Ghost of Albizu. Finn continues to cement himself as one of the best underground producers that Canada has to offer in recent memory with his incredible raw sound & Fev himself sounds rejuvenated on the mic.
This is the 5th full-length album from Canadian emcee Asun Eastwood. Coming up as part of the Brown Bag Money collective, he eventually broke out solo in 2017 off his debut mixtape Hollywood Briggs & then a Finn-produced debut album With All Due Respect a couple years later. We were just treated to P.I.M.P. (Prophecy Is My Present) a few months ago to celebrate Asun’s born day & for a follow-up, he’s reuniting with Finn for The S.O.U.L. (Science Of Understanding Life).
The title track at the start sets the tone for the album really with Asun jumping on a soul sample to talk about leaving a legacy before Ill Conscious accompanies him on the boom bap, integrity-themed “Soul Cry”. The song “Humility” with Daniel Son is short yet affective as the duo talk about never dying on top of a somewhat fuzzy instrumental whereas “Cassius Clay Fist” is a other short cut, except it’s a lot darker in sound & the reckless lyricism.
Rigz jumps on the dreary “Thrill of Victory” to help depict how exciting it is to be victorious & not only is the storytelling on “Bookey Owned the 80s” outstanding, but I also love how smooth the production is. SLNC might have the weakest feature on the album with the mafiosi “Keep It Clean”, but Flee Lord makes up for it on “.40” as he & Asun get on their gun-talk shit on top of a bass-guitar & a flute.
Meanwhile, we have Saipher Soze tagging along for the rock-influenced “Midnight Sun” to get introspective before he & Family Gang Black spit about pride & stupidity on the old western-flavored “CB4”. The song “Crown to Crown” with M.A.V. has an extravagant instrumental with the duo talking about pushing weight while the penultimate track is a gorgeous sequel to “Soul’s Mystery” off With All Due Respect. The closer “Float Away” gets back on the rock tip telling listeners to look at him now.
Despite me enjoying P.I.M.P. (Prophecy Is My Present), I’d say Asun outdid himself on The S.O.U.L. (Science Of Understanding Life). A couple of the features punched under their weight in my opinion but nonetheless, his lyricism has stepped up & Finn’s production is amongst the best he’s ever cooked up.