The greatest trick Westside Gunn ever pulled was convincing the world that Peace "Fly" God was a solo project. The ten track effort dropped on streaming services in the summer of 2022 with the Griselda don as headliner, despite the fact that the features by his label signees Estee Nack and Stove God Cooks take up much of the record's 33 minute runtime. For no small number of listeners, namely those who missed the 2020 Shady Records outing WHO MADE THE SUNSHINE, this was their first time hearing the Lynn, MA and Syracuse, NY spitters do their thing, over beats by Don Carrera, Madlib, and Conductor Williams.
Pretty soon, it'll be hard to find a hip-hop head who doesn't know of Conductor Williams, at least on some level. In just a few short years, the Kansas City, MO beatmaker has become a fixture in the creative circles that these Griselda-affiliated artists run in, appearing on projects by Conway The Machine, Rome Streetz, and of course Gunn. Though he came up working with cerebral indie emcee Stik Figa, he found himself a place in this street rap scene and has yet to cease making his mark. Befitting his boisterous, occasionally abused production tag, his profile has grown considerably, thanks to placements on Tyler, The Creator's CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST and Drake's 2023 set For All The Dogs. The latter's "8am In Charlotte" and the deluxe edition add-on "Stories About My Brother" exposed him to a new audience that Griselda artists rarely, if ever, touch, the sort of pop listener that Yasiin Bey nodded to in his since semi-retracted comments.
Still, even as he graces the credits of the hip-hop superstar's hits, Williams hasn't lost touch with the coke rap faithful. Released just a few days ago, "Melo Chip And A Brick" finds Stove God Cooks evangelizing from the kitchen with his championship-worthy wrist. Behind his punchline flecked hustle bars, as well as the vaguely sung yet instantly memorable hook. lies one of Williams' finest instrumentals to date.
It exemplifies the best of his technique, showcasing what separates him sonically from the unabashed maximalism of Nicholas Craven or the stark minimalism of Daringer. His production here is big but broken, the soul brass swells in a noticeably degraded loop that incredibly elevates Stove God's outsized delivery. Williams' mode tends to favor subtlety over austerity, his sample selection a challenge for even savvy trainspotters simply by the way he manipulates and utilizes the source material. This makes the seeming simplicity of this "Melo Chip And A Brick" beat so alluring, knowing damn well that another producer would find a way to botch it.
In the short history of Stove God x Conductor Williams collaborations, this marks the first proper release with just the two of them on a track. Stove's opening presence on WHO MADE THE SUNSHINE stacked posse cut "Frank Murphy" certainly leaves an impression, but it really was more prelude to what they might do together than anything else. Beyond Stove God's ample handful of Peace Fly God features, none of which had Williams on the beat, he showed up on some other 2022 Griselda efforts which did, namely Rome Streetz's Kiss The Ring standout "Blow 4 Blow" with Benny The Butcher and Gunn's 10 cut "BDP" with Streetz again.
One hopes that "Melo Chip And A Brick" proves a harbinger of near-future work by the pair for the rapper's long-awaited follow-up to the Roc Marciano-backed Reasonable Drought. (We can't really count the elusive, bootlegged version of If These Kitchen Walls Could Talk that was floating around, now can we?) He certainly could've helped Benny The Butcher's full-length Def Jam debut Everybody Can't Go, an album half-remembered two weeks after arrival. Swap out a few of those Hit-Boy bits with some of Williams' ones and it may have avoided mid status altogether.
Beautiful Lou, stay with me everyday could be this perfect (buy it / stream it)
Known among a certain generation of hip-hop heads for his work with A$AP Rocky and RiFF RAFF, Beautiful Lou has kept at his own path in recent years. Evidenced by last year's it was nice while it lasted and its likeminded predecessor the impermanence of everything we do, he filters his ideas through a movie camera lens. A mischievous mixtape, the just-released stay with me everyday could be this perfect plays out like the bonus material on a Criterion edition, familiar to fans of those prior releases yet worth the attention on their own. He plunders with a cineaste's panache, his enthusiasm for big screen dreaming evident both tonally and thematically.He nods to Banderas’ Desperado gunplay on “just another ghost in the shell” and conjures Scarface-esque aspirations on “sadness still in the hearts of men.” Echoes of Screwed Up Click and Swishahouse bounce around the decaying hallways of willfully odd productions like “the last day of my life” and the syrupy slowed “def jams how 2 b a player” remix. Still, despite the recurring vocal snippet’s exasperated pleas, Lou genuinely does seem to be having a good time on the freestyled “runnin back 2 me.”
Jay Cinema, Alchemy (buy it / stream it)
When a lonely stoner raps over supremely warped beatscapes, my attention is inevitably piqued. And that's exactly how it went when I first heard Yonkers, NY's Jay Cinema and his producer Chow chop it up on last year's smoked-out single "What A Day." The hazy uncertainty and down-to-earth insightfulness of that track all-but defines the corresponding album Alchemy, an 18-track odyssey through an unquiet mind. Fueled by strains like blue cheese and chemdawg, he exudes an uneasy sense of hope on “Protection,” a trippy curiosity on “Sympathy,” and a romantic grief on “You Lie." Six-minute closer "Blessings On Bless" adds dope guests like Big Flowers and shemar to make this low-key sesh a more communal experience.
Three new tracks for you to snack on...
John Glacier, "Money Shows (feat. Eartheater)"
Chuck Strangers, "Ski'd Up"
ArmstrongWW, "Mr Stone"