Kicking off his 2021 campaign, Griselda’s Conway the Machine looks to expand upon his reign of dominance with his brand new album, If It Bleeds It Can Be Killed. Teaming up with producer Big Ghost LTD for the first time since last year’s No One Mourns The Wicked, the two look to build upon their already seamless chemistry. With the pressure higher than ever due to rumors about the Machine beefing with Griselda and the release of his Shady Records debut nearby, can Conway’s newest statement live up to fans’ high expectations?
Even with this being his fourth project in the last 12 months, Conway manages to keep his lyricism refreshing and unpredictable. His mind-state has certainly been altered by the success of his billboard charting record From King To A God as his threats are more aggressive and his pride has heightened to new stratospheres. Moments like “J Batters” and “Read Beams” highlight this by showcasing his hard-hitting bars and throat-cutting delivery to a new maximum. On the note of his god-level, MC skills his chemistry with guys like Shots and Knowledge The Pirate on cuts like “Way We Move” and “Songs Of Kings” is off the charts. Still, the flow of these are just a fraction of the greatness achieved on the betrayal ridden “Kill All Rats”, which features Conway trading bars with Black Soprano Family member Ransom and frequent collective collaborator Rome Streetz. While the previously stated tracks stay close to Griselda’s impeccable model, the other songs elevate Conway into a new creative space. On the cut “Forever Ago,” the 38-year-old is in his rarely seen introspective side, which is portrayed masterfully as we hear the Machine’s darkest thoughts. More specifically, we become aware of his never-ending fear that he will lose his life when least expecting it. Hearing a rapper known for his toughness sound this weary is truly heartwrenching yet one of the best changes of pace in his entire catalog. Adding to this, the personally driven “Toast” adds even more layers to this street ridden MC in regards to his bars focused around the future of his brand and the years of blood, sweat, and felonies it took to reach where he is today. Opposed to the jab-hit lyrical style Conway has used through 99% of his discography, “Highly Praised” tells a vivid story about him beefing with a dangerous man and the repercussions both face due to their wrongdoings. Out of all these moments, the surefire standout is “Losses To Blessings,” which thrives as a result of its combination of the previously listed elements seen through the other eight tracks. At this point, Conway’s consistency and minor reinventions are mind-boggling and proof that he is only getting closer to becoming the best rapper in the game as we speak.
Behind the boards, Big Ghost LTD outdoes himself with one of his most sonically intricate scores to date. His sample choice is out of this world, and the way he loops basic soul samples and instrument patterns into the boom-bap formula he’s renowned for is near perfect. Whether he’s curating eerie suspense over the powerful monologue about the true worth of knowledge on “Commencement” or layering the chilling vocal cries on the outro, “Forever Ago,” every instrumental presented is a dedicated work of art. A sonic standout was “Highly Praised” due to its well chopped up choir sample and colluded drum pattern. “Kill All Rats” was another beat that was super memorable because of its screeching horns and pulsing bass drum that excrete feelings of death and darkness. Overall, the creative direction Big Ghost took the soundscape of this record in seperates it from both the rest of Conway’s catalog and his own.
In conclusion, If It Bleeds It Can Be Killed is an outstanding release that adds even more depth to Conway’s already stacked discography. Both Conway and Big Ghost push their creative boundaries to the limit and overall invent some of the best versions of themselves ever seen. At the rate Conway’s been going out, his next album, God Don’t Make Mistakes, is on pace to be an instant classic!
- Conway thrives with his usual style while also expanding on his artistic arsenal
- Big Ghost LTD created one of his most intricate soundscapes yet
- Amazing chemistry
- Top tier lyricism
- Lacks depth compared to Conway’s top records
Written by: Marc Dator
Scored and edited by: Marc Dator founder and owner of Fantastic Hip Hop