Written Before Listen
It’s about time that I review the third member of Griselda, Conway The Machine. I’ve reviewed Benny The Butcher, I’ve reviewed Westside Gunn, and now it’s time to review Conway. I always liked Conway a lot but I never saw him as the strongest member of Griselda. I think when it comes to bars and one-liners, he might be the best but I always saw Benny be more clever. With that being said I hope this album proves me wrong and without further ado, let’s get into it.
Griselda is known for their hard-hitting beat choices, and songs like “Piano Love”, “Lock Load” and of course “John Woo Flick” are examples of those hard-hitting beats, but most of these beats are kind of soulful and emotional. We have the high-pitched vocal samples on “Tear Gas” as well as “Guilty” and “So Much More” which brings it back to the days of Cam’ron and Beanie Sigel. I wouldn’t say Conway chose the best Griselda beats ever, but he wasn’t intending that. He was intending to choose beats that would work with the lyrics.
Conway is a lyrical dude. It’s well known that his wordplay and rhyme schemes are in the top tier for modern rappers, but any versatility? On this record. Conway decides to open up and talk about some of the most sensitive topics that he could talk about. The song “Stressed” is an example of something that shows his emotional side as he talks about his bells palsy as well as the death of his son not so long ago. He also brings romance on “Chanel Pearls”, introspection on “So Much More” as well as hypotheticals on the title track. Conway still remains a top lyricist, but I’m glad to say that he opens up while doing it.
As this is a Griselda record, it is pretty feature-heavy, but all of them work in one way or another, but there are some that I’m not big on. Beanie Sigel on “Lock Load” is logical due to the situation he had to deal with, but his feature wasn’t anything to write home about. The following track features both Rick Ross & Lil Wayne and as Lil Wayne has some good bars, he sounds super offbeat throughout the whole album. After Lil Wayne is done, Rick Ross hops on a track that is basically built for him. We then get “Drumwork” with 7xvethegenius and Jae Skeese and Skeese obliterates both artists on this track. “Wild Chapters” has features from TI and Novel and while Novel has a good hook, they both have passable verses. Except for the Griselda cut, the rest of the tracks with features include spoken word and hooks but the Griselda cut is amazing. The Pistons line from Benny is too good not to mention. Overall, some features punch under their weight, but the common side characters did their homework.
I will tell you right away, that I enjoy this album, but one thing that I have a problem with is the album sequencing. As an opener goes, “Lock Load” is the equivalent of starting an essay with a sentence that explains evidence from a random passage. I also think having “John Woo Flick” in-between two emotional songs ruins the mood. I think if you started with “Babas” than getting to “John Woo Flick” then maybe going to “Lock Load” would be better. I don’t know if the sequencing was focused or not, but I think it should’ve been given more focus.
Other than the album sequencing, I do think some beats focus too hard on sounding introspective and emotional without packing the punch, as songs like “Guilty” and “So Much More” have beats that could be considered outdated. Other than that, This is the record that Conway needed to be up to par with the other Griselda members.
Conway has outdone himself again and I love hearing it. I always thought Conway was up to par with his lyrics, flows, and versatility but as an album maker, he wasn’t as strong as Benny or Westside Gunn. Now, I can say that he has made an album that could be considered in high regard when all said and done.