The grassroots movement Griselda have been able to build for themselves over the last few years has been nothing short of inspiring. Representing Buffalo, New York, Conway to me has represented his struggle and grit more poignantly than anyone else, and man has he lived through a lot. Surviving a shooting that left the right side of his face paralysed in 2012, he channelled his struggle through rap, and he has remained consistent with his rhymes since. Already an established figure in the underground hip-hop movement over the last few years, he has teamed up with legendary producer Alchemist for a 7-track EP titled LULU. There’s a dark energy to this release that makes it such a captivating release, and with Alchemist’s dark yet soulful production, he establishes himself further as an intelligent and gritty rapper with tons of personality.
After the subdued “Intro” track, the EP explodes to life with “14 KI’s” as Alchemist combines unsettling synth samples with dusty drums to create a dark and unsettling soundscape, allowing for Conway to flow effortlessly over it. He commands so much dominance and confidence on this track, as he states “Get treated like I’m the big ticket when I’m movin’ through Boston (Hah) / They prayin’ on my downfall, want me to lose fortune.” As a gangster rapper, with a difficult past, a lot of people are envious of his success as a rapper now, so naturally he expects a lot of people to shit on his success and pray for his downfall. This is inspiring and just shows how far he has come doing this music thing. The beat on “The Contract” sounds rich, with the emphatic string sample throughout. The opening lines on this track are menacing – “Let’s toast to my enemies, no, let’s toast to my injuries / Turned my negative to positive, I don’t need no sympathy / I’m the GOAT ’til infinity, I wrote with intensity / Plus, my potent delivery, I just hope they remember me.” The way he delivers those raps sound like he really means it and he’s not here to fuck around. “Shoot Sideways,” the lead single, features ScHoolboy Q on the hook and is a dark and hellish track. I would have loved a Q verse, but again, it’s the dark and unsettling production and the menacing flow from Conway that makes this one stand out. The energy on “Calvin” is more low-key, with Conway’s fast-paced flow adding a new dimension to his personality, as he continues rapping about the hardships he’s faced, with vivid imagery about his past. Cormega makes a guest appearance, giving a solid verse that complements the dark and unsettling tone of the track. “Gold BBS’s” acts as a chilling closer to the project, and it features another menacing and beat from Alchemist and some of Conway’s best raps throughout. Lines like “My money in line, that’s why I’m good with the connect for” and “Started with an eight ball and then I moved a couple ounces” are just a few examples of his clever wordplay. You can sometimes draw comparisons with 50 Cent, not only because of his story but his vocal delivery. On both “14 KI’s” and “Gold BBS’s” he sounds like him, with a melodic hook that’s executed pretty well. Westside Gunn’s “doo doo doooo” ad libs add character to the music, perfectly capturing the darkness severity of the subject matter.
Overall, it’s Conway’s menacing and unapologetic flow and Alchemist’s gritty and unfiltered production that make LULU such a great listening experience. Their chemistry is perfect throughout and I can’t wait to hear what both musicians will do in the future, because I’m almost certain they will work together soon. A match made in heaven on a project that sounds gritty and unapologetically brutal and honest. It’s a great EP that deserves all the support and love it can get!
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