In March, Griselda records signed female MC Armani Caesar to their ever-growing roster. Since acquiring her, she has assisted the crew in their illustrious run this year with guest appearances on Westside Gunn’s Flygod is an Awesome God II and Conway’s From King To A GOD. After building a name of her own, the spotlights now on her as her debut album, THE LIZ, just came out today. With success from features and her single “Simply Done”, will Armani Caesar uphold Griselda’s image, or will she plunder their credibility?
The “Sissy Intro” skit perfectly embodies everything Armani Caesar stands for as it talks about female, independence, toughness, and empowerment. With cuts like “Countdown”, “Ginger Rothstein”, and “Mani Moves Freestyle”, these are some of the most prominent values preached on the entire record. “Palm Angels” is the definite standout of this bunch as Caesar raps about a failed relationship and moving on from those who didn’t respect her. With that stated, don’t take her lightly as she is tougher than most male rappers in today’s day and age. Songs like “THE LIZ”, “Simply Done”, and “Mac 10s for Everybody” embody this side of her. Assisting the record Griselda’s big three of Westside Gunn, Conway the Machine, and Benny the Butcher all deliver show-stealing guest verses. Rounding the album out, “Yum Yum” and “Drill a RaMA” serve as energetic bangers that display Armani’s ability to create club hits. With versatile subject matter and an overlying narrative, Armani Ceasar proves she is here to stay in the rap game.
Behind the boards, the record builds on Griselda’s expanding sound. While cuts like “Countdown”, “THE LIZ” and “Gucci Casket” contain those raw instrumentals you’d expect, “Yum Yum” and the 808 Mafia produced “Drill a RaMA” show Armani’s ability to work over hard-hitting trap beats. Even a song like “Mac 10s” with Westside Gunn has a moderately toned sound that is relaxing for Griselda standards. The DJ Premier produced cut “Simply Done” contained one of the more sonically proficient soundscapes as Premo’s scratches, sampling, and tone changes are on par with his best work. While there is loads to admire here, the record truly thrives on the cuts “Palm Angels” and “Mani Moves Freestyle” as their rhythm and blues-infused samples create the ultimate emotional climax. Sonically, THE LIZ is one of the most well-rounded records out of the entire Griselda camp this year.
In today’s hip hop climate where females are looked down upon for promoting slut culture and talking about their “waps”, Armani Caesar helps prove this narrative wrong. THE LIZ is ambitious, educational, and, most importantly, fun. From the menacing tracks that embody modern boom-bap and gangster rap to the empowering anthems of self-worth and pride, Armani Caesar offers so much to anyone listening. At this point, Griselda seems like they can’t miss, and I’d expect their reign to strengthen as the year winds down.