Conway’s story starts long ago. Let’s start this step by step.
Forget about Buffalo, NY and Conway for a second. Follow me on this one.
There are moments, in the life of a man raised on bread and rap music, when he feels the absolute need to listen to the entire discography of A Tribe Called Quest on repeat at least a couple of times a day. Facts. Especially on days like Mondays, when you go to work, school, kick out with friends, or so on.
What just passed was one of those moments, which then sometimes are a day or two but seem like a month. Here you are, lulled by the gentle treatment reserved for drum breaks, by the amalgamation of that sound there, in general, that beautiful big boom that goes on, round round, and turns as you turn, and turn, you sing the rhymes here and there. You can even hallucinate to the point where you imagine yourself facing Bob Power as he accidentally engraves his voice in history. And so on, with amenities of this kind.
You listen with pleasure to the evolution of the sound of the group, the pre and post-Jay Dee productions, wondering how deep and beautiful Midnight Marauders is, but you never know how much. Then you look at it compared to The Love Movement, and then to Low-End Theory, and nothing, you think all those things that only the worst rap nerds can think of. Strong stuff.
And then the days pass, you get lost in a thousand interferences, another playlist joins you, a new podcast, two or three fixed songs. Meanwhile, you do something else, and then, hey, something happens. Last Friday, in time for Halloween, after days of anticipations and warnings via social by the whole Griselda team, the countdown to the release of Reject 2, #albumoftheyear according to Westside Gunn, starts in a bit of nerdy rap. ideal sequel to Devil’s Reject, new Conway album.
Yes, we’re talking about the very same Conway from Hall & Nash alongside Westside Gunn, that same man I’ve told you about here, the same due from Griselda Ghost, indeed. His second full-length LP is entirely overviewed and produced by Daringer. I was indeed waiting for Reject 2, and when it dropped it kinda blew me.
I knew there would have been something to eat, perhaps not all but some great “food”. So on Saturday night, I receive the news, and from then to Sunday morning, easy like my man Solinas, here I go. In my headphones, I have this freshly released hard-core rap grimy gem. And then again. And again. And over and over again. It immediately becomes the stuff you listen to on repeat, on days like that kind of Monday, when you go to work, school, kick with friends, or so on. I have a déjà vu…
Why you shouldn’t be surprised by pairing up Conway’s own Reject 2 and A Tribe Called Quest.
Disclaimer: let’s put things in perspective, and keep the record straight. If you are surprised that, after a treatment based on A Tribe Called Quest, I plunge serenely into music defined by the authors themselves homicide rap, based on bodies over bodies, without batting an eyelid, there are at least a couple of good whys, of which I want to tell you well.
Conway is a beast on the mic, carrying on a tradition of storytelling.
The first reason why you should put things in perspective is Conway himself, dude. Think of his rap: concise, dry, full of dark humour, but with a great swing and an elegant flow, to say the least. With music, the Buffalo emcee tells about itself in a rough and heated way, masterfully using the poetics of the smooth criminal with a tremendous penchant for hyper-violence. Similarly to his person
Something that perfectly reflects the character, whose look is distinct. Linked to Westside Gunn and Griselda, Conway counterbalances their glam, alongside the designer/rapper with the discretion of a champion. Without drinking champagne from the pyrex, more quietly but no less bold and deadly, just differently criminal, no less effective.
Reject2 is a team effort, like any ATCQ record may be.
Throughout the album the cohesion of the team and the solidity of the single are palpable. Speeches like a rap nerd, who would tell you that from Devil’s Reject to today the growth, both in lyrical and musical terms of the emcee, is evident. Everything has a focus and a precise direction, the intention is to raise the bar, and the thing is palpable.
You are in the cinema, in a sense, you are looking at images on images, in reality. You float between the rhymes. The rapper’s play of syllables is harmoniously accompanied by the groove, between pauses, accelerations, onomatopoeia and slang. Strong stuff, once again.
Daringer: the musical mastermind with the golden age sound, but expanded.
The second good reason why this album deserves in-depth listening is the work done by Daringer, who orchestrates the lyrical massacre with skill, both from a compositional point of view and as a cure for sound. With the touch and vision of the veteran to bring samples and breaks together, and make them play.
Also (mostly) thanks to him and his signature, even Alchemist was pushing Conway’s new release via Twitter the day before yesterday. Ask Alc for Daringer if this happens to you. I tell you. Assist me on this point. In an in-depth analysis led by my trusted rap nerd panel, the producer of Griselda, with all the due distinctions of the case, maintains a red thread that binds his production to the tradition of the great classics of the genre, including A Tribe.
The common denominator, in diversity, is the love for beautiful music, the taste for extreme research for the choice of the right atmospheres to create sound scenarios, and frescoes in which the groove is always central. Minimal basslines, sumptuous breaks, yet very roughly mixed, and few luscious samples. A perfect killing-spree soundtrack is served.
And there you are again lulled by the gentle treatment reserved for drum breaks, by the amalgamation that this sound has, in re-actualizing that sound, elevating it to a completely stripped-down key. This beautiful fact is round and turns, and you turn, and turn, hum the crazy rhymes here and there, imagining yourself in front of a pistol-whipping in East Buffalo.
Bob Power is no longer here, it is just a far memory linked to the way the break-beats are treated. And you still think all those nerdy things about rap, like above.
This duo can pistol-whip your stereo ’till the speakers drop, folks.
In a different, obsessive, dark way, the funky rawness conveyed by the beat-emcee union is at the top of the range in the history of music, if you know what I mean. And this is it. What interests me, is the evolution of matter.
Of course, to enjoy the experience in full first you’ll have to digest 1000 Corpses, travel through Air Holes, meet Rex Ryan or collide with the monumental Beloved, forgiving an understandable loop or two, but the mission is more than possible.
Pack your backpack and check the Buffalo rhyme rate, paraphrasing one. And if it ever got to Tip’s ear, this story, I’m sure he’d appreciate it. Do you think I could be proved wrong? Listen to Conway and Daringer and Reject 2, and then you’ll tell me.