MonStar Entertainment – “Game Ain’t Safe” review

MonStar Entertainment is an independent hip hop label based out of Flint, Michigan, founded by local emcee Lyte & his business parter Matt Estep almost a decade ago by now. Their presence was first felt in the summer of 2014 when Young Lyte put out his debut mixtape Follow the Lyte, but took a backseat once he signed to Psychopathic Records on New Year’s Day 2017 & preluded his full-length debut Broke But Still Shining at that summer in the form of a debut EP Psychopathic MonStar before leaving the next fall. Eventually, he returned last March by dropping Metamorphosis solidly detailing his artistic & personal growth since taking time off in music. But after signing longtime affiliate Skitzo as well as Hypnotic Sound Studios co-founder Str8jaket & even Psychopathic’s first act that they signed Project Born, all 5 of them are joining forces to deliver a debut EP showcasing the ever-growing MonStar roster.

After the intro, the title track truly opens the whole thing with a nocturnal trap ballad so they can talk about taking over the rap game whereas “Can’t Stop Us” works in some luxurious keys & hi-hats making it known that MonStar is a force to be reckoned with. “Black Sheep” dives into cloudier turf referring to themselves as the underdogs while the song “Another Level” laces a booming trap instrumental addressing their elevation. The penultimate track “Heavy” blends these hi-hats with some whistling flexing about the noise they make & “Soldier’s Code” closes it all out with a vulnerable trap ballad bracing for the fight that’ll soothe the soul.

Even though MonStar’s been around for 9 years, most of us were introduced to them through Lyte’s brief tenure under the Insane Clown Posse’s mentorship & to hear the whole current roster together like this gives me the feeling that it’s only the beginning of the Flint label’s rise in the underground. The production’s more trap based, each artist has their own distinct characteristics to them & they all ping off one another naturally throughout.

Score: 4/5

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Lyte – “Metamorphosis” review

Lyte is a 32 year old MC from Flint, Michigan who broke out in 2014 off his debut mixtape Follow the Lyte. He then signed to Psychopathic Records on New Year’s Day 2017 & put out his debut EP Psychopathic MonStar that summer following the 18th annual Gathering of the Juggalos in Oklahoma, but amicably left a couple years later in order to focus on building his own label MonStar Entertainment & becoming a father. But now after returning from his sabbatical, he’s finally unleashing his full-length debut to the world.

“Bars XXX” kicks off the album on a victorious note with the help of MonStar in-house producer Lendo Smiley talking about how he used to pray for this moment whereas “You Might Know” works in a guitar to tell the story of his struggle & where he is today. Layzie Bone & Stevie Stone tag along for the piano-laced “Problem” advising that you don’t want any beef with either one of them just before “Sunshine” returns to rap rock turf talking about making it out of the storm.

Meanwhile on “Flame”, we have Lyte on top of an operatic vocal sample boasting his rapping prowess leading into “Take Control” mixing some keyboards & guitars talking about fueling the flame except the hook is like nails to a chalkboard. “Change You” however goes into a spacious direction admitting that he hasn’t been the same since he’s made some dough, but then “Lyte It Up” goes into mellow boom bap turf talking about smoking weed.

“Level” incorporates some synthesizers with the help of Hypnotic Sound’s very own Str8jaket prior to Skitzo coming into the picture for the eerie “Cut Like That” produced by Jim Job talking about the way they’re built. “Outlaw” is a dope piano ballad comparing himself to such while “Mind Back Right” brings in P.R.E.A.C.H. & Twisted Insane to showcase their chopper flows over a solemn trap beat that Lyte happened to cook up himself.

The track “We Got That” goes full blown rap rock to talk about his ride or die bitch while the penultimate song “Stay in Yo Lane” with Ant G, Bam Beda, DJ Clay, Double Dragon, Frank Nitty & Tha Hav Knots is a lethal 7-minute posse cut going at their competition. The title track then finishes the album with an acoustic trap banger talking about being so much more than what the world thought he was.

I wasn’t sure if this day was actually gonna come like a lot of juggalos thought, but I’m actually happy it did because what a way for Lyte to return after that 5 year gap. The way he goes into detail as to how much he’s changed since then is very admirable & the production is as consistently stellar as it was on Psychopathic MonStar. Welcome back, dude!

Score: 3.5/5