New York emcee El Gant drops ‘O.S.L.O’ (Our Sun, the Last Original) his latest album and his most introspective and powerful project to date. This ten-track offering is chock full of some of the freshest and phattest beats, but also includes some really heavy bar work from El Gant himself, and those he hand picks to share in this opus as well. ‘O.S.L.O’ showcases a range of lyrical content, taking the listener on a journey from start to finish, really capturing the essence of hip hop, but also evoking authentic emotion throughout.
El Gant has been back in the consciousness of hip hop heads through his feature work and of course his part in the hip hop superteam that is Jamo Gang, but to get a full length project almost ten years on from his last is a delight. Even better when that project is ‘O.S.L.O’ a ten-track album that engages your ear from start to finish. The album kicks off with ‘Roar the Lions’ featuring DJ Grazzhoppa on the cuts and after some wise words from Heath Ledger’s incarnation of The Joker, it’s foot on your neck stuff from El Gant over Motif Alumni production. It sets the tone for the rest of the album with its brutal flow and top tier production that gets the neck muscles moving. ‘Pageants’ is up next and it still remains as rugged and relevant as it did when dropped as a single a few months back. The production from Marco Polo slaps and Ras Kass steps up to match the lyrical fury that El Gant displays, before the DJ Premier produced banger ‘Leave It Alone’ transports us back to the street corners in the 90’s with the dusty soundscape and cuts.
It’s a sonic change when ‘Aladdin‘ hits, as Brainiac Beats puts together an electrified, upbeat number that H3ro raps over with ferocity and El Gant shows off his versatility with both pen and flow, then onto a switch up with ‘Rubber Match‘ produced by Jamo Gang brethren J57, a slower, more introspective and purposeful track that hits the mental as well as the headphones. A mini posse cut is up next, with Bobby J from Rockaway and Phase One sharing the mic and the spotlight with El Gant on ‘Eagle Talents‘ which brilliantly uses the infamous Mobb Deep bars on the hook. ‘Chromed Out‘ has already had MAD play since it dropped and it is still a highlight of the album, even when surrounded by nothing but dope track after dope track. Ras Kass and El Gant are troublesome but adding Planet Asia to the mix was flames.
As the audio journey continues, Killah Priest delivers some heavy bar work on ‘Nothing To Lose‘ with Lana Shea scorching on the vocal hook, haunting the listener with her sultry tone before El Gant tears through the mic like a man possessed. ‘Avirex‘ is a huge tune, from the really heavy andd sharp drums, to the impassioned flow and sharp pen….. “If anyone thinks they’re flowing, I’m the tourniquet“…. Woooo. Innocent? and King Magnetic match the bar work, bringing their own vibe and tone to the street anthem. It’s delightfully grimey. The album concludes with a melancholy tribute to those who have fallen and are no longer with us on ‘Beautiful Disaster‘ featuring to delicate and gorgeous vocals of Georgette. The emotion on the track seeps through the headphones and into your cerebral and sits there – this is a perfectly crafted and executed ode to those who have been removed from El Gant’s life.
Bangers: Avirex, Chromed Out, Leave It Alone, Roar the Lions, Beautiful Disaster.
Score: 10 / 10. Ten tracks, each perfectly crafted and an album that is curated brilliantly from start to finish, echoing the life journey El Gant has experienced and now captures in song. The guest appearances on this album are really high quality and they are brought in to assist in telling the tales, not just for the sake of it. El Gant clearly had a vision for this and took his time to execute it perfectly. There are tracks that are flat out insane and can be added to any playlist – Avirex, Chromed out and the others listed above, but ultimately this is an album that resonates so well, you put it on and experience it.