Him Lo x Giallo Point (Cognac Kingz) hit us upside the head with some more of that heavy, hardbody, boom bap hip hop mixed with street poetry and pimped out rhymes as they drop ‘Cubanz and Cognac‘. The frequently collaborators have terrific chemistry as they marry beats and bars effortlessly while delivering the finished product with brutal beauty and ‘Cubanz and Cognac‘ is just another volume in a dope AF discography.
This is unapologetic hip hop with braggadocious energy and primal pimpness, so there will be some moments on the album that don’t quite hit with all listeners and feel somewhat ‘dated’ in their misogyny and message, but hip hop is all about expressing yourself and Him Lo plays the ‘Ebeneezer Maxwell (International Man of Leisure)’ character flawlessly. There are also some authentic, introspective and down right entertaining moments on the album that get the head nodding and the face screwed up in a show of respect for Him Lo’s pen and Giallo Point’s production.
The album kicks off with ‘Black Caesar‘ which features some subtle drums, smooth snare and dope strings while Him Lo just grabs the mic and gets busy with his bravado bars. ‘Smoke Signalz‘ has intricate keys over dusty drums and snares. Him Lo alters his flow to be a little more subtle with the delivery, but his bars are still devilish and raw. Then ‘Valenti‘ slows the pace a little and adds some soul / lounge synth and strings to the soundscape, but Him Lo simply slides a velvet glove on his iron fist and keeps demolishing the microphone.
It gets a bit more grimey and takes it back to that golden era 90’s sound on ‘Da Pen‘ with some ill scratches for Lo to show up and spit his street poetry with purpose. ‘RIProdigy’ is a brilliant track and a highlight of the album as Giallo Point delivers that Mobb Deep sound in a perfect tribute track that Him Lo gets deep and dark to provide the concrete narrative in celebration of one of the greats. ‘Whiplash‘ combines eerie synth and samples with darker, bold lyrics with great results and replay value while ‘Cuban Cigarz‘ is a more stripped back soundtrack that highlights the purposeful spit and microphone terror that Him Lo provides.
‘Sippin Champagne Out Of Pimp Cupz‘ is nothing but a pimp-anthem masquerading as a love song! Him Lo is syrupy in his delivery, over the super-smooth keys and crisp snare from Giallo in a joint that feels a little out of place and would have been more suited to the Ebeneezer album from last year. ‘Death Wish‘ brings us right back to the street corner with the verbal ferocity and concrete hard bars, before ‘Clubber Lang‘ uses the iconic Rocky soundbyte to kick off another bar-heavy joint (more bars than Planet Fitness!) with street substance.
The production on ‘Firearm Specialist‘ is another highlight with the horror-movie-esque keys over boom bap drums, allowing Him Lo to keep it grimey but with a more subtle flow with his homage to guns. ‘Ghostface Eagle Bracelet‘ ups the ante and builds with some dope bop to the beat as Him Lo gets his own Prodigy-like flow on, while the album culminates with ‘Golden Gun‘ featuring Clever 1 x No Rules Clan which contrasts church-like organs with filthy street-corner raps.
Bangers: RIProdigy, Da Pen, Ghostface Eagle Bracelet, Golden Gun, Whiplash.
Score: 9 / 10. Outside of the one somewhat of a misstep, this album does what it is meant to – captivates you with the high quality production and smacks you upside the head relentlessly with bars and flow from Him Lo. This pairing never sounds stale and they bring out the best in each other, sometimes through the chemistry and similarity of purpose and other times through the distinct juxtaposition of styles. Either way, this deserves multiple listens to really appreciate the project and should be on your playlist over the next month or so. (Note: yes you can find this album on YouTube, or you can flick a couple of dollars to the Bandcamp and give the artists their due!)