Stevie Stone – “Black Lion” review

Stevie Stone is a 39 year old MC from Columbia, Missouri who first gained attention as one of the very last 2 artists to ever sign with Ruthless Records alongside Hopsin. Both of their full-length debuts New Kid Comin’ & Gazing at the Moonlight received little to no promotion, leading both artists to leave the crumbling label. Hopsin went on to form Funk Volume shortly after before closing shop in 2016 whereas Stevie signed to Strange Music in 2012. He eventually became one of the label’s biggest artists with albums like Rollin’ Stone, 2 Birds 1 Stone, Malta Bend & my personal favorite: Level Up. Then came the JL collab album Kontra-Band in 2018, which was really good too. But after Tech N9ne dropped his latest album ENTERFEAR this past spring, things over at Strange slowed down drastically due to the pandemic. However, Stevie is helping the Snake & Bat back in their groove by dropping Black Lion.

The album kicks off with “Set in Stone”, where Stevie talks about being unchangeable when it’s all said & done over an acoustic guitar. The next song “V.I.P.” serves as a club banger with a cavernous trap beat while the track “Type of Time” talks about being a threat over a 7 instrumental with a cool woodwind thrown in. The song “Underrated” vents about deserving more appreciation over a delicate instrumental while “The Worst for Me” details how this woman can’t leave him over a luxurious boom bap beat.

The track “Can’t Deny It” talks about a groupie wanting to chill with him over a smooth instrumental & while the song “Selfish” with Flawless Real Talk finds the 2 talking about why they’re so finicky over a vibrant beat with a woodwind sample. The track “No Permission” gives the listeners a proper clue of what his do’s & dont’s are over a druggy instrumental while the song “Teknique” with Tech N9ne gets sexual over an hyphy beat.

The track “Conquer” with Spaide R.I.P.P.E.R. is a decent mosh pit starter while the song “Jungle” with King Iso gets on the more braggadocious tip over a trap beat with a unique cricket loop throughout. The song “Dope Sick” talks about hard he be going over an intimidating instrumental from Wyshmaster while the track “Holiday” with Maez301 is an incredibly fun party anthem.

The song “Hennessy & Harmony” talks about being all in over a cloudy instrumental while the track “Vibe” with ¡MAYDAY! stoner’s tune backed by the reggae style production that Wrekonize, Bernz & NonMS dabbled in throughout the trio’s last album South of 5th. The song “Some Days” speaks on having all these emotions bottled up over a piano-inflicted trap beat while the penultimate track “Still Standing” with Rittz finds the 2 talking about how far they’ve come over a melancholic instrumental. The album ends with “Taste”, where Stevie opens about how much fame has changed him over a chill beat.

Like I said earlier: Stevie Stone is one of the most prominent acts on Strange Music & this album is a fine example as to why. There are a couple of features that don’t really land with me, but you’re gonna get a good look at how much he’s changed throughout the years & the artist/person that he has become today.

Score: 3.5/5

Stevie Stone & JL – “Kontra-Band” review

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With the release of Stevie Stone‘s 5th album Level Up & JL‘s Strange Music debut DIBKIS last summer, the 2 are now coming together for a full-length collab album. Things start off with “Groomed by the Block”, where the duo talk about their come up over an eerie instrumental. However, the PHresher verse at the tail-end was pretty generic to me. The next song “Lessons” talks about learning from all their losses in life over a laidback trap beat while the track “Trappin’ On the Hill” reflects on their drug dealing days over a gritty instrumental. The song “Too High Today” is a weed anthem with a gloomy trap beat from Seven & the track “She’s So Fly” is a decent love tune with a reggae-inspired instrumental.

The song “I Was Ready” sees the 2 going back & forth about being prepared for the feds over a piano instrumental while the track “Envy” is a message to their haters over some a cloudy backdrop with some rattling hi-hats. The song “Not One of Them” with Tech N9ne sees the 3 talking about hoes over a gloomy beat & the track “Boss Sauce” gets braggadocious over some monstrous bass. The song “Miles Davis” with Joey Cool sees the 3 ambitiously talking about success & the Seven instrumental is ok too, but the hook is too repetitive for me.

The track “Pluto” talks about realizing someone wasn’t who they thought they were over a spacey beat from Suli4Q & while the song “Cautious” is an aggressive & rapidly delivered message to the haters, the Flawless Real Talk verse is just average. The track “Bad Habits” with Krizz Kaliko talks about how everything will be ok in the end over some bass with a piano in the background & the Navé Monjo hook isn’t too bad either. The standard edition closer “Only a Man” is a reflection of where the duo are at now with a beautiful Adrian Truth hook & Suli4Q instrumental while the pre-order track “What You Gon’ Do” gets braggadocious over an haunting instrumental.

While I wasn’t expecting this, I did enjoy the album at the end of the day.  Some of the features could’ve been better but the production mostly bangs, the song topics are delivered passionately & there’s quite a bit of chemistry between Stevie Stone’s huskiness & JL’s charismatic yet sharp lyricism. If they ever decide to make a follow-up in the future, then I’d be all for it

Score: 3.5/5