Ever since he dropped his debut Godbody, Saipher Soze has been one of those ‘must cop’ artists. The Toronto emcee has a candid nature to his pen game and his ability to craft rhymes that relate to a range of topics, ensure an interesting listen every time we spin his music. His latest album ‘Velvet Hammer‘, his fourth solo installment, is testament to this as Soze navigates his way through eleven tracks and just over 30 minutes of dope new hip hop.
We were treated to the first single ‘Speed Racer‘ a month back, which gave us some insight into the music we could expect from this project entirely produced by Sibbs Roc. Now, the full length is upon us and it really hits the mark from start to end. Things kick off with a ‘Usual Suspects’ soundbyte before launching into the dusty, boom bap production that underpins Saipher’s thoughts on ‘Lion Paw‘ as he introspectively addresses his come up. ‘Rebelz‘ is a darker anthem, but still has room for Soze to flex his lyrical muscle and brag on ’em before ‘Pray For Me‘ enlists Umbrella Academy artist Pro Dillinger for some additional bar work, dropping emotional tales and life lessons over a delightfully composed piano.
‘Princeton 10‘ brings in the horns as Sibbs Roc lets the instruments sing and create a really intricate backdrop, allowing Soze to wax lyrical and spit his bars about keeping it ten toes down and staying on that mission while avoiding the fake. Fellow Canadian emcee Daniel Son joins the ranks on ‘Uptown Swing‘ which as the title suggest, features some blaxploitation-esque lounge music, paired with the punchy drums and verbal darts being spit by the duo. ‘Kings Gambit‘ brings it back to that boom bap pocket and while there are some nice keys placed over the top, this track is carried by those beats and the impassioned flow from Soze as he returns fire against those who doubt him.
Next up we get ‘Overkill‘ which brings a different energy, a more upbeat, positive vibe in contrast to the darker, edgier tracks that have preceded this. Saipher Soze really gets his teeth into this joint and he rides the beat effortlessly while spitting his swagger. ‘Fly Guys‘ featuring Falcon Outlaw continues the more ethereal vibe, with the drums hitting a little cleaner and some sax to really set it off, as the emcees weave some cockiness into their raps before ‘Only Champions‘ really pushes the envelope into a more soul / jazz fuelled space while the bars keep the listener on the straight and narrow and focused on winning.
‘Young Mowgli‘ is an anthem, some real motion picture ish, and Soze really steps up and commands the mic with this track, embodying the subject of his track as he goes hard, forging his own path with ferocity before it’s back to round out the album with the aforementioned ‘Speed Racer’, a soulful, jazzy track to wind down the album.
Bangers: Young Mowgli, Rebelz, Kings Gambit, Lion Paw.
Score: 8.5 / 10. A fantastic listen and Saipher Soze really knows how to use that pen. His flow is diverse and he can command the mic in a range of different styles while remaining authentic and engaging. The beat choice was solid, sometimes a little disjointed as we worked our way between gritty street bars and soul / funk / jazz (although that does play into the velvet hammer analogy!) and I would have liked to close the album with another high energy joint after peaking with Young Mowgli. Another fantastic hip hop album from the Toronto emcee, and should find some solid minutes in everyones rotation.