Ransom – “This Life Made Me” review

This is the 8th EP from Jersey City wordsmith Ransom. Coming up as 1/2 of the short-lived duo A-Team alongside Hitchcock, he branched out on his own in 2008 following their disbandment beginning with his 2008 full-length debut Street Cinema & the Statik Selektah-produced sophomore effort The Proposal. But it’s been safe to say these last couple years have been his biggest so far whether it be the 5 EPs that he put out produced by Nicholas Craven & his last EP 7 based around the 7 deadly sins or his previous album Heavy’s the Head produced by Big Ghost Ltd., the Rome Streetz collab album Coup de Grâce & more recently his latest album No Rest for the Wicked earlier this spring. But now that fall’s here, Ransom’s enlisting Mayor & Ty Jamz to produce This Life Made Me top to bottom.

“Pain is Glory” is an organ-laced opener declaring himself to be the modern day Michelangelo whereas “Ignorance” works in a boom bap instrumental to talk about talking about being a businessman. “The Prophecy” takes a more triumphant route bragging that he’s the greatest while 38 Spesh tags along for the soulful “Last Gasp” confessing that they wanna see the best sides of them. “The World is Yours” has some cool rock undertones to the beat talking about swerving the law, but then Havoc comes into the picture to bring back the organs for the closer “Purge Night” belittling their opposition.

Ran went on social media last night calling this EP “a warm up for what’s about to come” & whatever that may be, I’m very excited to hear it because this dude is one of the most consistent MCs in all of hip hop today. Not only does he manage to explain how he the life he loved made him, but Mayor & Ty Jamz also manage to cook up some very eclectic production together pulling from boom bap to soul & even rock.

Score: 4/5

@legendswill_never_die on Instagram for the best music reviews weekly!

Ransom – “No Rest for the Wicked” review

Ransom is a 43 year old MC from Jersey City who came up as 1/2 of the short-lived duo A-Team alongside Hitchcock. After their disbandment, he branched out on his own beginning with his 2008 full-length debut Street Cinema & the Statik Selektah-produced sophomore effort The Proposal. But it’s been safe to say these last couple years have been his biggest so far whether it be the 5 EPs that he put out produced by Nicholas Craven & his last EP 7 based around the 7 deadly sins or his previous album Heavy’s the Head produced by Big Ghost Ltd. & the Rome Streetz collab album Coup de Grâce. So given all that, I was very much excited going into his 4th full-length album right here when it was announced a couple weeks back.

“The Hawk” kicks off the album with some heavy horns attacking those who be putting him in a box whereas “Rituals” with 38 Spesh finds the 2 over a joyous trap instrumental talking about being on the deep end trying to swim with no life vest. The Game tags along for the chipmunk soul heavy “Circumstances” produced by the album’s executive producer Nicholas Craven advising “not every friend is loyal, but your wife & kids is dependin’ on you” leading into “Overnight Success” having a more angelic talking about being awoken from the tundra.

Meanwhile on “Compromised”, we have Ransom over some strings calling out those plotting on his demise just before “Makin’ It” takes a soulful route talking about how life what’s you make it. “Redemption” keeps the soul samples coming bringing a light to the dark alley, but then Tyrant comes into the picture for the crooning “Captions” talking about looking good in social media posts & not living half the life.

The song “Imperial Glaciers” with Willie the Kid finds the 2 over these glistening piano melodies into the mix taking shots at the system for malnourishing them while the penultimate track “The Gambler” has more drumless quality to it talking about how he gambled chasing this rap shit. “Beautiful Gravesites” with Black Chakra & J. Arrr ends the album by classily encouraging to bake your own pie compared to everyone else trying to get a slice.

I was honestly expecting him to drop that project with Pete Rock he was talking about last year, but I think No Rest for the Wicked is still a great way to hold everyone over when or if that’s still going to happen. Ransom’s lyricism is some of his most introspective & I like that Nicholas Craven decided to give some shine to some lesser-known producers because I’m very interested in seeing what they all do from hereon out.

Score: 4/5

Ransom & Rome Streetz – “Coup de Grâce” review

This is the brand new collaborative effort from Ransom & Rome Streetz. One is a TCF Music Group affiliate out of Jersey City & the other being a New Yorker who rightfully earned his spot as one of the latest signees to the hottest label in the world right now: Griselda Records. Both wordsmiths have come together in the past before like “Blackwater” & “Sage or Gunsmoke” off both their latest albums Heavy’s the Head & Razor’s Edge respectively, but have come together to take things to new heights in the form of Coup de Grâce.

“No Remorse” is a symphonic opener about them giving a fuck less whereas the boom bap-tinged “All I Know” speaks on moving a different kind of dope these days. “Rooftop Sermons” brings back the strings with the help of V Don declaring themselves as hood preachers just before “Claudine” with Che Noir vividly details the story of a drug fiend of the same name & eventually tying into the “Fairwells” interlude.

Meanwhile on the Lord Sear-produced “Pray for the Weak”, we have The Game joining Ransom & Rome to provide some rich food for the soul leading into them talking about making it out the mud for “Jet Fuel” with a keyboard instrumental from Animoss. The soul sample “Silent Murders” is entrancing with the duo rightfully boasting about how nice they are while the dusty “Dark Love” gets in their battle bag.

The penultimate track “Bandoleros” with Lou form Paradise & Tyrant weaves in a chilling sample from Nicholas Craven as the quartet compare themselves to that of bandits while l “Death Becomes Life” ends it all with some organ harmonies getting on that motivational tip.

Both of these dudes have been putting out their best work all year & you can absolutely add Coup de Grâce onto the list. They have a unique chemistry together, the production is gritty as expected & most importantly: it’s an absolute bar-fest from start to finish.

Score: 4.5/5

Ransom – “Heavy’s the Head” review

This is the 3rd full-length album from Jersey City emcee Ransom. Coming up as 1/2 of the short-lived duo A-Team alongside Hitchcock, he branched out on his own following their disbandment beginning with his 2008 full-length debut Street Cinema & the Statik Selektah-produced sophomore album The Proposal. But it’s safe to say 2020 was his biggest year yet so far, dropping a total of 5 EPs produced entirely by Nicholas Craven & all of them being equally stellar. Then the dude dropped 7 last month, which is a well executed concept EP based around the 7 deadly sins. However, all of this has been leading up to Heavy is the Head produced by Big Ghost Ltd. from start to finish.

“Lord Stark” starts off the album with a 1 minute skit & then Ransom jumping over some heavy synths to see who can propel higher than him whereas “All the Kings Men” is pretty much Mickey Factz & J. Arrr tagging along to leave a piano instrumental scarred up like they said they would at the end of the first verse. “Ransom the Destroyer” works in a Viking-esque beat to proclaim himself as such just before RJ Payne assists him for the symphonic battle rap cut “The Red Wedding”.

After the “King’s Intermission” interlude, “Tyranny” is a heartbreaking portrayal of how people are cold blooded while “Blackwater” is a rock-tinged barfest appetizing heads for his upcoming collab album with Rome Streetz. The penultimate song “Off With His Head” with the Heavy Metal Kings & Lou from Paradise is basically the quartet quenching for blood over a dusty instrumental & after the “King’s Landing” interlude, the closer “A King’s Ransom” has these haunting choir vocals throughout & it’s about how a fortune is granted to whoever hands him a traitor.

I’ve been listening to this dude for almost a decade now & I gotta say: Heavy is the Head is the best body of work that Ransom has attached his name to yet & one of the best things you’ll hear in 2021. Dude’s in his prime lyrically & Big Ghost’s production is epic as fuck! God can only imagine how his next album with Pete Rock will sound.

Score: 4.5/5

Ransom – “7” review

Ransom is a 42 year old MC from Jersey City who came up as 1/2 of the short-lived duo A-Team alongside Hitchcock. After their disbandment, he branched out on his own beginning with his 2008 full-length debut Street Cinema & the Statik Selektah-produced sophomore album The Proposal. But it’s safe to say 2020 was his biggest year yet so far, dropping a total of 5 EPs produced entirely by Nicholas Craven & all of them being equally stellar. And now to warm us up for Ransom’s upcoming albums with Rome Streetz as well as Big Ghost Ltd. & Pete Rock respectively, we’re getting a concept EP revolving around the 7 deadly sins.

Craven slides through behind the boards for the soulful opener “Envy” touching down on how jealousy can corrupt oneself whereas V-Don infuses keyboards & dusty boom bap drums on “Gluttony”, where both Ransom & Lloyd Banks mix spiritualism with the street shit they’re known for. Meanwhile on “Greed”, we have Royce da 5’9” tagging along assisting on the theme of selfishness with Lord Sear bringing in some horns into the production before Chup goes into a more rock-tinged sound for the vengeful “Wrath”.

38 Spesh takes things into chipmunk soul territory on “Lust”, which is about how you can see the emotions when your life’s an open book. The penultimate track “Sloth” has a weak verse from J. Arrr at the tail end of it, but I do like the sluggish instrumental as well as Ransom’s lyrics about not letting your master confuse your view. And for the self-produced closer “Pride”, we’re treated to a soul sample much like the opener & a look into egoism.

I knew exactly what I was in for going into this EP & he delivered. Not just because the production is raw yet super diverse, but the concept is executed in a way that feels natural rather than hamfisted or corny. Beyond excited to hear where he’ll take it with Rome, Big Ghost & Pete Rock just before 2021 ends.

Score: 4.5/5

Black Soprano Family Records & TCF Music Group – “Trust the Sopranos” review

This is a brand new collaborative compilation between New York independent hip hop labels Black Soprano Family Records & T.C.F. Music Group. One operates as an E1 Music imprint owned by Benny the Butcher & the latter being founded by 38 Spesh. The pair have been working together for a long time now (case in point: Stabbed & Shot), so it only makes sense for them to bring their crews together for Trust the Sopranos.

The opener “Immunity” by Benny & Elcamino kicks off with a succulent instrumental from Rick Hyde as the 2 go on about having their block under control, but then the Camino solo cut “Corner” is a horrendously sung R&B ballad despite the luscious 38 Spesh production. We later have Che Noir, Klass Murda & Ransom detailing their lifestyles on the angelic “Price of Fame” before the latter teams up with Benny to talk about fake people on the piano-laced “Spineless”. Ampichino & Spesh come together to talk about their lives being like a movie for the victorious “Tokyo Drift” whereas the Heem solo cut “Long Story Short” is him jumping on alluring boom bap beat saying that he’s about to take shit over.

Ricky accompanies Heem on the cinematic “Load Up” to talk about their homies mobbin’ while the song “Love Left” by Benny, Che Noir & Klass Murda is a smooth heartbreak anthem. The penultimate track “Blue Money” by Benny, Elcamino & 38 Spesh finds the trio talking about getting it out the mud over an organ-laced instrumental from the late DJ Shay whereas the closer “Silent Death” by Chase Fetti & Rick Hyde is an airy ode to murder.

It was only a matter of time both labels would come together given their intertwining history & the end result is pretty decent. Benny & Spesh always bounced off each other well on projects like Stabbed & Shot and the Cocaine Cowboys duology, but the TCF artists (i.e. Ransom & Che Noir) outperform the BSF signees throughout the half-hour.

Score: 3/5