Conway The Machine is already back with his second album this year, La Maquina. On this project, the Griselda MC seems to be taking things in a much more mainstream direction with featured guests, including Ludacris, JID, and 2 Chainz, amongst others. Being only two months apart from his gritty last release, If It Bleeds It Can Be Killed, will Conway be able to keep his hot streak alive?
Through 11 tracks and 41 minutes of run time, the Machine goes through his typical bag of tricks but manages to keep things interesting through his tit-for-tat lyricism and considerably potent songwriting. As all Conway records go, there’s a lot of bragging and boasting, and while it hasn’t gotten old yet, it’s getting to the point where there are only so many accomplishments you can flex. Fortunately, Conway’s most introspective performances since the prolific From King To A God are found here, and they serve as a refreshing change of pace. His lyrics definitely have more personality when compared to his last LP, but the sheer passion usually comes together with help from the raw emotion in 39-year-olds delivery. Hearing him analyze his life choices and even put his success in perspective through this demeanor makes cuts like “Blood Roses” and “6:30 Tip Off” as climatic as possible. Although Conway isn’t breaking any walls down here, his successful formula proves to work again, and his case for best in the game has only strengthened.
Adding to Conway’s performance, an array of guest features come to play in the much more action-packed second half. From his Drumwork label members like Jae Skeese, Shots and & 7xvethegenius to frequent collaborators like ElCamino, these artists do a splendid job at bringing out the best in the Machine. He clearly has developed so much chemistry with these individuals as they aren’t just rapping for the sake of making hard-hitting posse cuts but instead tapping into more thoughtful headspaces as a whole. Out of all these up comers, Jae Skeese certainly seems to be the most prominent, as all three of his guest appearances are some of the best on the entire project. Moving into the higher-profile guests, names like JID and Ludacris team up with Conway seamlessly to make a great banger in “Scatter Brain”. Being apart of his second Griselda project this year, 2 Chainz joins the Machine for the elegantly menacing “200 Pies”. Out of the six songs that contain guest appearances, the definite highlight was the records closer “S.E. Gang,” which teams up the entire Griselda big three of Benny the Butcher, Westside Gunn, and Conway for the first time since From King To A God’s “Spurs 3”. Through the trios raw emotion and the chilling guitar sample in the background, this cut showcases what the renowned Buffalo crew can do at their best. Overall, the guest appearances from collaborators, new and old, play such an essential role at making this project feel immersive and distinct from the rest of Conway’s catalog.
Behind the boards, the more mainstream-oriented soundscape adds a nice change of pace when looking at the heavy emphasis of boom-bap on the Machine’s previous LP. Names like Don Cannon, Bangladesh, and Murda Beatz engineer involved instrumentals that bring out a different side of Conway and crew. Whether it’s a trap beat or a commercial-friendly palate seen on songs like “Scatter Brain,” these stylistic switches are essential to keep things fresh and unpredictable. Still, things are taken back to the basement on cuts like JR Swiftz’s “Bruiser Brody” and Daringer’s “S.E. Gang”. Out of all these sonic moments, meeting in the middle of mainstream and underground with The Alchemist’s “200 Pies” definitely makes for the best score on the entire album. From its soothing soul sample to its chilling background chords, Uncle Al further proves why he’s the best producer in the game at the moment. Embodying all sides of hip hop with this soundtrack, Conway continues to show his ability to destroy any beat given to him.
Looking at La Maquina, it really proves how spoiled Griselda fans are at this point. This is merely a filler project and prelude to Conway’s Shady Records Debut God Don’t Make Mistakes, and it’s still better than most artist’s yearly efforts without even trying. For any fan of Conway or Griselda as a whole, this album will excite through its minor stylistic switches an array of interesting rapper and producer collaborations. If Conway The Machine keeps going at this rate, he may end up having the best two-year stretch of any rapper in hip hop’s near 50-year history.
- Conway further proves his case as the most consistent in the game
- Diverse soundscape challenges Conway and makes him perform out of the box
- All features show up and body their performances
- Plays things relatively safe
- Not doing anything truly out of the ordinary in Conway’s catalog
Written and Reviewed by: Mr. Fantastic, owner and founder of Fantastic Hip Hop