38 Spesh – “Beyond Belief” review

This is the 4th EP from Rochester emcee/producer 38 Spesh. Notable for being the leader of the Trust Army, he’s been steadily busy throughout the last few years whether it be him producing projects for the likes of Planet Asia & Elcamino. He’s also built up an impressive solo discography for himself with my favorites being the Big Ghost Ltd.-produced A Bullet for Every Heathen & even his last full-length Interstate 38 a couple Christmases ago. But to follow-up 7 Shots almost 3 months ago, Spesh is enlisting Harry Fraud to fully produce Beyond Belief.

“Warm Winter” is a rap rock opener with Spesh talking about flying out to Hawaii with a bunch of bitches in December whereas “Speshal” works in more guitars as Stove God Cook$ comes into the picture following his immaculate feature on “Shootouts in Soho” off Westside Gunn’s latest mixtape Hitler Wears Hermes X to help Spesh deliver an ode to the drug dealing lifestyle. “2 23’s” has more symphonic boom bap quality to it as Conway the Machine drops the best feature verse with it’s insane rhyme scheme & Spesh talking about never stressed visits when he was locked up. “Loverboy” acknowledges that he was living exceptional behind bars, but then “Back to Shore” with Elcamino & Wiz Khalifa is an impassioning ballad about the road to riches.

Following that on “Target Practice”, we have Jim Jones & Spesh over more rock guitars talking about pulling up to your show with backstage passes until “Band of Brothers” with Benny the Butcher & Ransom finds the trio saying they came together similar to how The Jackson 5 did & the string sections throughout the beat are just absolutely fucking stunning. The song “Sal’s Pizza” has a cool vocal sample before the verses as Spesh hops on top of some pianos & guitars confessing he moved out of Rochester because home is where you receive the worst hate while “Mint Green” with Curren$y has a more chilling quality to it calling out those who were never them dudes. “Sharlene” though ends the EP chipmunk soul style talking about chasing big money ever since he first realized what it was.

For this to be the first EP he’s done outside of the Shots trilogy, it’s gotta be my favorite one he’s done so far & absolutely a highlight on his solo catalogue. Harry’s production has a predominant boom bap sound with some chipmunk soul & drumless undertones, the features all bring their unique styles to the table excellently with Spesh ensuring that people don’t sleep on him lyrically.

Score: 4.5/5

@legendswill_never_die on Instagram for the best music reviews weekly!

Che Noir – “The Last Remnants” review

This is the 5th EP from Buffalo emcee/producer Che Noir. Catching my attention after 38 Spesh signed her to TCF Music Group & fully produced her first 3 EPs, it wasn’t until her Apollo Brown-produced full-length debut As God Intended & then her self-produced 4th EP After 12 during the 2nd half of 2020 where her potential began to blossom exponentially. She just dropped her sophomore album Food for Thought at the beginning of the year & is rounding out her 2022 in the form of The Last Remnants.

“Handicap” is a 2-minute opener with Che belittling her competition on top of a weepy boom bap instrumental whereas “Therapy Session” takes a more soulful approach to tell the story about herself as a Buffalo queen. Ransom comes into the picture for the atmospheric yet dusty “Bidding War” produced by Trox speaking on the music industry just before Elcamino tags along for the classy “Summertime” talking about how they kept fighting to be where they both are today.

Meanwhile on “Wine & Dine”, we have Jynx716 assisting Che on top of a rich boom bap beat comparing their love for this rap shit to that of their own kinfolk leading into “Wash the Dishes” weaving a funky bass-line & a vocal sample together so she & Benny the Butcher can flex their boss statuses. The song “Lately” with Klass Murda finds the 2 over a more whimsical instrumental talking about being stressed as of late while the penultimate track “Promised Land” with 38 Spesh returns to soulful turf celebrating their success. “Art of Patience” however serves as an ambitious conclusion to the EP needing to know if the goals she sets are achievable.

Che has already proven herself to be one of the most skilled women in the game today & if The Last Remnants is only an appetizer for something bigger coming down the pipe in the near future, then it’s most definitely on par with all 4 of the EPs that she’s given us in the past. The concept of her thanks the man upstairs for the bread on her table & blessing it is incredibly profound as she takes a backseat behind the boards to allow some of the best producers in the underground to shine.

Score: 4/5

@legendswill_never_die on Instagram for the best music reviews weekly!

Che Noir – “Food for Thought” review

Che Noir is a 27 year old MC/producer from Buffalo, New York who caught my attention after 38 Spesh signed her to TCF Music Group & fully produced her first 3 EPs. However, her Apollo Brown-produced full-length debut As God Intended & then her self-produced 4th EP After 12 during the 2nd half of 2020 where her potential began to blossom exponentially. Given all that, I had a very good feeling going into her sophomore album right here.

After the “Eat to Live” intro, the first song “Split the Bread” kicks off the whole album with some rich pianos talking about being mentally dangerous whereas the self-produced “Eat or Starve” with Jynx716 has this killer guitar loop with the pair letting listeners know they never had it easy. After the “Daily Bread” skit, “Bless the Food” has a cheerful sound to it talking about being the voice of the people just before Armani Caesar & 7xvethegenius tag along for the string-laced “Ladies Brunch” reminding themselves that they’re the nicest females in the underground currently.

Meanwhile on “Praises”, we have Che on top of a cinematic boom bap instrumental from Chup talking about going down as a GOAT just before Ransom & 38 Spesh come into the picture for the piano/vocal loop infused “Table for 3” treating necks like footsteps lyrically. The track “Good Cutlery” encourages listeners to make wise decisions over some hi-hats & synths while the JR Swiftz-produced penultimate song “Brains for Dinner” goes straight into battle rap territory. After the “Water to Wine” interlude, “Communion” ends the album with a powerful ballad talking about some pain she’s been through.

Despite the brief delays the album faced prior to it’s release, it was very much worth it. It demonstrates her massive range, styles & techniques from nostalgic reminiscences to crime-driven narratives accompanied by the golden age-inspired production that’s all over her previous works.

Score: 4/5

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

38 Spesh – “Interstate 38” review

38 Spesh is a 35 year old MC/producer from Rochester, New York known for being the leader of the Trust Army. He’s been steadily busy throughout the last few years whether it be him producing projects for the likes of Planet Asia & Elcamino or his own solo output. But to cap off 2020, Spesh is back with his 4th full-length album.

The opener “I-38” talks about how he’s just getting started over a nightly instrumental from STREETRUNNER whereas the next song “Interstate” with Che Noir finds the 2 talking about getting rich off the road together over a somewhat funky beat from Spesh himself. The track “Toll Booth” with Ransom sees the 2 talking about never switching up on the gang over an instrumental kin to Wu-Tang Forever-era RZA while the song “Stash Box” with Benny the Butcher finds the 2 on their drug dealing shit over a grand beat.

The track “Road Back” talks about treating this woman like she’s one of his over a lush instrumental while the song “Route 38” talks about how you ain’t man if you ain’t taking care of your family over a jazzy beat from Buckwild. The track “Investment Pieces” talks about not rocking ice over a luxurious instrumental provided by The Heatmakerz while the song “Money Calling” talks about wealth over a demonic beat.

“The Mule” with Dini is a lust tune with a decent instrumental & a horrendous execution while the penultimate track “Under the Table” talks about having a metaphoric relationship with his kitchen table over a drumless horn loop. The album ends with “Made It Home”, where Spesh talks about being blessed now over a soulful beat.

Even though I think A Bullet for a Heathen is his best work, this is still a dope follow-up. I like how he brought in more outside producers into the fold so he can remind listeners of his skills as a spitter too.

Score: 3.5/5

Che Noir – “After 12” review

This is the 4th EP from rising Buffalo emcee Che Noir. Coming on my radar by extensively collaborating with 38 Spesh, she would really change things up earlier this summer by enlisting Apollo Brown for one of the illest albums of the year: As God Intended. However, Che herself has decided to start hopping on the boards & showcase her beat-making skills on the self-produced After 12.

After the “Foxy’s Intro”, the first song “Cruise Control” talks about riding through the city over a mystical beat whereas the next track “Hunger Games” with Ransom & 38 Spesh finds the trio talking about starving for greatness over a churchy instrumental. The song “Reasons” with Jynx sees the 2 talking about backstabbers over a lush soul sample while the track “Divine Knowledge” talks about thinking better when it’s harder to see over an alluring instrumental. The song “Moment in the Sun” with RJ Payne & Sa-Roc finds the 3 talking about not speaking about shit unless they know it over a piano & some vocal harmonies while the closer “Grace” talks about wanting it all over an uplifting beat.

Pretty solid follow-up to As God Intended if you ask me. There are a couple features that I personally could’ve done without, but Che’s production is honestly just as dope as her lyricism & I can only imagine her perfecting it as time goes on.

Score: 3.5/5

Elcamino – “Sacred Psalms” review

Elcamino is a 26 year old MC from Buffalo, New York who blew up in late 2017 when he dropped his self-titled EP with Griselda Records. This was followed up by his Walking on Water mixtape in the summer of 2018 along with dropped 2 studio albums & a few EPs last year. He just dropped an dope EP produced by 38 Spesh back in February called Martyr’s Prayer & now as we start the 4th quarter of the year, he & Spesh are back for another one.

The opener “Hammers on the Hip” talks about being strapped over a glistening instrumental whereas “The Avenue” horrendously sings about what it’s like on his block over a slow, dreary beat. The track “Hold U Up” continues to sing poorly (this time on some gang shit) over a gloomy instrumental while the song “Don’t Know” hops back on the rapping tip to boast over a slick beat.

The track “Hustle Like Me” talks about his grind over a woodwind-infused instrumental while the song “What I Be On” talks about being rich over a boom bap beat with some synth-horns. The penultimate track “Camino Season” talks about taking over the rap game over an instrumental with a funky bass-line & some synth-chords whereas the outro is a decent remix to “If You Want It” off the Trust Army’s sophomore album Army of Trust II.

I prefer Martyr’s Prayer of the 2, but this is still a solid effort nonetheless. 38 Spesh comes through with consistent production once again & Camino sounds like he took his time on it in contrast to a handful of his latest material.

Score: 3.5/5

Flee Lord – “Loyalty & Trust 2” review

This is the 11th EP from Queensbridge emcee Flee Lord. Coming up as a protege of the late Prodigy, he eventually became a force to be reckoned with in the underground. But 2020 has proven to be Flee’s most prolific year yet, dropping a new project every month since February. And to make up for not dropping in January, he’s reuniting with 38 Spesh for a sequel to Loyalty & Trust before dropping Pray for the Evil 2 next week.

The EP kicks off with “5 on Us”, where Flee talks about doing it for his kids over a boom bap beat with menacing piano loop. The next song “Lords & Gods” with the late Fred the Godson sees the 2 talking about building an empire over an eerie instrumental while the track “2 Pics on My Gram” talks about how he isn’t gonna be missing anymore over a beat with some kids singing in the background. The song “Aunty” talks about cooking coke over an instrumental that sounds like something RZA would’ve made in the late-90’s while the track “Weird Time” talks about how “cats kill mice, but the dog kill cat” over a boom bap beat with an nice orchestral sample.

The song “Still Trapped” talks about how he thought he wanted out of the dope game over a bleak instrumental while the track “Motivate tha Real” is a touching dedication to Fred the Godson. The penultimate track with Che Noir is a fantastically cold-blooded sequel to “Both Views” off the original Loyalty & Death whereas the titular outro that finishes the EP off talks about how fucking with him will get your melon banged over a sorrowful boom bap beat.

Flee Lord has yet again come through with another stellar project. He continues to reveal himself as one of the most ferocious lyricists out of New York today with each passing month & 38 Spesh’s production on here compliment his gritty bars just as much as it did on the predecessor.

Score: 4/5

Planet Asia – “Trust the Chain” review

This is the latest full-length album from Fresno veteran Planet Asia. Starting off as a member of the duo Cali Agents, he would go on to have a very successful solo career & has made a lengthy yet consistent discography for himself. Including albums such as The Grand Opening, The Medicine, Pain Language, Abrasions & Anchovies. And to kick off his 2020, Rochester’s very own 38 Spesh is being enlisted to produce Trust the Chain in it’s entirety.

The album kicks off with “Body After Body”, where Asia reclaims his prowess over a triumphant beat. The next song “Resurrect Pharaohs” with The Musalini sees the 2 talking about how superior they are to their opponents over a suspenseful beat while the track “Mystery School” talks about running the game over a colorful soul sample. The song “God Degree” is filled with knowledge backed by an atmospheric beat & while the track “Passport Player” has some dope mob-bars over a boom bap beat with a luxurious piano lead, the hook is horrendous.

The song “Snake Charmer” talks about pushing drugs over a prominently icy flute lead while the track “Learned from OGs” with Elcamino & Fred the Godson sees the 3 showing love to those who came before them over a boom bap beat with an incredible orchestral loop. The song “Tec & a Mink” talks about how hard it is to be a good dude over a melancholic instrumental while the penultimate track “Juggernauts” talks about his crew shining over a victorious beat. The album finishes off with “Wintertime”, where Asia reflects on his childhood over a euphoric instrumental.

Personally, I find this to be one of Planet Asia’s best efforts yet. Could’ve been a bit longer as it only only runs for a half hour but in that short amount of time, he quickly reminds us of his place in the culture as a west coast legend with a ferocious pen-game & 38 Spesh backing him up with some very rich & grand production.

Score: 4/5

Elcamino – “Martyr’s Prayer” review

This is the brand new EP from Buffalo, New York emcee Elcamino. First time I listened to him was in November 2017 when he dropped his self-titled EP with Griselda Records. This was followed up by his Walking on Water mixtape in the summer of 2018 & last year alone, he dropped 2 studio albums & a few EPs. However to ring in the new year, he’s dropping off the 38 Spesh-produced Martyr’s Prayer.

After the titular intro, the first song “Legal Money” shows off his riches over a spooky instrumental whereas “Flowers” finds Camino aspiring to be respected while he’s alive over a calming beat. The track “Street Signs” talks about how he would’ve died for his block over a boom bap beat & after the “Martyr’s Speech” skit, the song “Young Lordz” talks about coming a long way from the hood over a blissful boom bap beat. The track “Get Hi Too” is a short yet effective stoner anthem with a mellow instrumental & before the outro, the final song “2K20” with Che Noir sees the 2 flexing over an impeccable BADBADNOTGOOD sample.

Compared to Elcamino’s last 2 projects that he dropped this past fall, this is a big step-up. I feel like it could’ve been more fleshed out since every single cut is under 3 minutes but nonetheless, Spesh cooks up some of his best production & the pen-game has improved also. Looking forward to see what else he does this year.

Score: 4/5