7evenThirty and Gensu Dean. Rapper and producer. Mello Music Group stalwarts and Jackson, Mississippi natives turned Dallas denizens. Their working together was fated, rooted in shared soil before it was written in indelible ink. With 7evenThirty's sophomore album, The Problem, the duo have committed their destined collaboration to wax, giving rap listeners an album that wrestles with the rapidly changing present and carves out a much-deserved space in the forever-uncertain future.
Though 7evenThirty's first solo effort, Heaven's Computer, was written as a semi-autobiographical sci-fi narrative, he's landed squarely on terra firma this time around. In fact, his previous interstellar retreat inward has resulted in an incisive outward gaze at his home planet. The city buildings might be crumbling, the bars and beats of other rappers and producers homogenized, but there's hope.
With his delivery sharper than ever, 7evenThirty is comfortable and confident no matter where Dean's snares and kicks hit. He moves in and out of double time with deceptive ease. Furthermore, his styles are markedly varied throughout, ranging from rigid and rapid fire ("Russian Revolver") to bouncy and playful ("Foot On the Ground").
Still, 7evenThirty's dexterity behind the mic doesn't supersede his thought provoking lyrics. Case in point, "Making of a Vigilante," which deftly outlines a scorned and vengeful woman's haunting and convoluted attempt to enact justice. 7evenThirty also tackles several other emotionally and sociologically rich topics. The perils and paranoia associated with our dependence on technology ("Off the Grid"), the problems facing the next generation ("Generation Why") -- amidst the rubble, he leaves no stone unturned.
Working with his preferred SP-1200, which only allows ten seconds of sample time, Gensu Dean has once again managed to modernize golden era aesthetics, crafting intricate and fluid beats through stringent composition. Favoring sonic diversity over claustrophobic cohesion, Dean's banging suites are perfectly tailored to 7evenThirty's wide-ranging subject matter. Wherever 7evenThirty goes Dean sidles up next to him, flipping lush soul ("Filthy Rich"), blues-rock ("The Problem"), Ukrainian pop ("Foot on the Ground"), and more.
The sole feature comes from venerated New York MC Sean Price on "Hook Heavy." Over Gensu Dean's menacing production, Price's gruff deadpan delivery proves the perfect counterpart for 7evenThirty's energetic and elastic wordplay.
With The Problem, 7evenThirty and Gensu Dean have cut all but the essential. The twelve tracks are clear and concise in execution, totaling slightly less than forty minutes. Not every question is answered, but the most important are explored. Listen closely for the answers.
released July 8, 2014
Album Producer: Gensu Dean
Mixing & Master: Jimi Bowman
Art & Design: Marques Phillips
Executive Producer: Michael Tolle
Sounds Beautiful Like The Truth
Mello Music Group, 2014.
Raw rhyme, fuck your world this is all mine
Earth taken over, your earth quaking and you niggas living on a fault line
So on or offline, I’m all prime and you’re all lyin’ so fall down
And cover your face, I’m a flash bomb
If you’re on-looking, then you’re all blind
Bitch niggas need to fall in line, you’re all dyin’
And you all same the same singin’ the same song all the time
Gun in my mouth, borderline
From blowing my brains out the back of my head
Just tryin’ to forget that shit t you just said
If ya system ain’t already up to the red, them my thoughts too big for ya head
Caught within a pen and his pad
Thoughts different, ridiculous Mad hatter with the grime, grittier filthy really
Get your will written in advance
And please pull up ya pant, I don’t want to see ya ass
I wanna see some class
Be foolish enough to ask what I’m thinkin’, you don’t wanna know me that bad
Collateral damage, I’m haphazardly saving the day, I’m ass backwards
On my craft, while mad rappers are transforming into bad actors
Some of that wild crazy, bust ya shit open, run the hell over run-of-the-mills
Some of them skills, someone’s gettin’ killed over this before the shit is over
Who the type of nigga say they really want it
Think they really got it, say they got a problem
I don't really get it, really aught to quit it
Time we get up in it, then we gotta finish
And if you really with it, let me see your trigger finger to the ceiling
Scream and holler when you get the feelin'
Let a nigga know you really think he killin' this shit
And then I sing a song of sixpence when I get to stick my pen in it
And if it isn’t any incentive, then a nigga isn’t finna get with it
And I can get so insensitive when a critic wants to put in his opinion
Where it isn’t wanted, didn’t ask for it
You can fold it up and shove it far as it’ll go
As I proceed to bust a little flow and fold a bit of dough
I got the scene up in a Figure 4 with no immediate intent of letting go
So here’s when I’m finna run it down
While everybody’s tryin’ to dumb it down, Immo be conjuring up another concoction Bubbling up from the underground, from out of my noggin
A Gemini , with two twins fighting to the death over who’s the zaniest
And them and I are too different
So it’s only a certain amount of shit that you get to talk before you get sonned
You gotta crawl before you can walk so that you can run when I pull the gun
Think for a minute I’m recording just because I like the sound of my voice
No I can’t stand it. Now let me know if this is something that you can’t manage
Here’s a way to deal with The Problem
One silver bullet with your name on it, one spin around in a revolver
Press it to your head, take a chance on it
A chilling story told not only by one of hip-hops finest, but with a legendary team behind it, the album puts you in the room when everything happens. Not only a musical masterpiece, it's an instant classic that has the power to shake you and it's genre. Stephen Thornton