Substance810 has continued to produced high quality hip hop for over 10+ years and ‘The Monolithic Era’ is another jewel in an impressive catalogue. This, his eleventh album, sees the Michigan-bred emcee / producer team up with JQuest Beatz who delivers robust production that is just begging to be rhymed over, and Sub obliges at noteworthy standard with his song writing and spitting skills. When Substance810 gets in the booth, there is clearly a sense of purpose and that translates to each and every track. Hanging Gardens may still be the best album he’s done (Or Makin Waves, or A Righteous Offering…), but The Monolithic Era would be knocking on the door. The quality of rhymes, the production pairings and the mature delivery of content and conversation is as good as he’s ever been – and the bar is pretty high. Let’s talk about it.
The intro (The Exordium) sets the scene before ‘Don’t Bite The Hand’ cuts its way straight into your consciousness courtesy of DJ Grazzhoppa. The beat has a punchy, boom bap vibe, with an ominous undertone while Sub drops knowledge and warning about ensuring you act right when in his presence. ‘Monolithic’ really brings those dark, dusty vibes and it slaps! Enlisting the assistance of K. Burns & ethemadassassin, this track is fierce, each emcee brings their own flavour to the track as the discussion revolves around bravado and bars, before ‘Triumph’ enters the headphones with some serious anthemic grandeur and kick ass horns. The wordplay is witty, the bars delivered brilliantly and the production on this joint is captivating.
A more ethereal, laid back ‘Ancient Sand’ is next up with an understated vocal hook entrancing the listener while Substance810 keeps dropping that knowledge and social commentary. P.U.R.E features on ‘Cross The Line’ with a stern, street narrative taking us on a journey and identifying what happens when you make the call to action, and ‘Time Zones’ is a simple, yet solidly delivered track that draws the listener in with the introspective narrative and boom bap production – complete with brilliant cuts to bring that extra element. ‘Flaming Chariots’ is home to some really deep, robust drums, but it’s the flute that really dances over the top to set it off. Sub builds a big time persona on this track and warns that “the loudest be the scariest” and “I don’t fear death so I ain’t scared to live”.
‘Solidarity’ is one heck of a joint, featuring John Creasy, Big Trip and Josiah The Gift and brings some serious vernacular from the Umbrella crew. The beat utilises keys to create suspense and contrast to the deep drums, but each emcee steps up and just demolishes their performance on arguably the best track on the album. Sub enters the ‘Me and My Girlfriend / I Gave You Power’ kind of realm, drawing parallel narratives between women and weaponry for ‘Sexxx Pistol’ with some clever lines, but ‘Concierge’s in Negril’ really ups the ante with insanely deep, dark and moody production making the speakers shake and allowing Substance to bring a Rakim kind of vibe with the cadence and delivery.
Allah Supreme and Sunez Allah jump on ‘Foundational’ to shine alongside Sub on this ‘audio seminar’ which addresses how the crew stay fresh, keep it real and are always dropping knowledge. ‘Raw Materials’ features cuts from DJ Grazzhoppa which instantly sets the tone for this boom bap banger. Body Bag Ben rips the mic apart, lyrically slaughtering the horn-laced, triumphant track which also sees Substance enter beast mode with his verbal barrage. The final track is ‘Precious Medals’ and it’s a delightfully, laid back, hypnotising track which reminisces on the journey and grind of life to get to this point.
Bangers: Solidarity, Monolithic, Concierge’s in Negril, Bite the Hand.
Score: 9 / 10. This is yet another fantastic offering from Substance810. The production from JQuest Beatz is really refreshing, blending the traditional boom bap style production, but implementing elements such as horns, keys and the crafty use of vocal samples to highlight each track. Sub really takes this to another level with his more personal and introspective narratives peppered throughout the album, and when he just straight spits, his bar work is really heavy lifting. This project is well worth your time investment and will no doubt see multiple spins once you get acquainted.