Seattle emcee AJ Suede and Philadelphia-based producer Small Professor have released a stellar new album titled Hundred Year Darkness. I’ve been familiar with Small Professor’s work since 2020’s A Jawn Supreme (Vol. 3), and have been hearing AJ Suede’s name around for a new months now, but admittedly this is my first intro to the talented emcee, so I’ve got some catching up to do! Small Professor’s punchy and eerie production is complemented by AJ Suede’s incredibly vivid and visceral abstract yet imagery-filled raps, drawing inspiration from his own experiences, while rhyming impeccably throughout the 10 tracks (+2 Small Pro remixes) on the album.
It also showcases Small Professor’s talents as a a producer, lacing AJ Suede with some eclectic beats that capture AJ Suede’s dark and menacing flow effortlessly. “Apologize Later” is an atmospheric, spacy beat. With barely any drums, it gives AJ Suede space to flow effortlessly throughout. Self-reflective on his own life and artistry, as well as a willingness to turn “a wage into a salary”. From here, the production ebbs and flows between subtle beats and more hard-hitting moments like on “Borrowed Time Stamps” featuring Defcee. The colourful, piano-led melody and heavy beat (in comparison to other tracks) on this one is pretty special, and Defcee’s verse sounds mature and incredibly potent. The production on “Enterprise” and “Full Metal Chimera” featuring Fatboi Sharif is animated, with the latter track being one of my favourites on the album. The tribal beat, with Fatboi Sharif’s incredibly eclectic and wonderous rhymes throughout make it a true joy to listen to. “Thesaurus” is another great tune. The beat sounds like some classic RZA shit, AJ Suede rhymes effortlessly, enunciating his words effortlessly, with multi-rhythmic syllables (not only on this track but throughout) that are just so captivating and draw me to his poetry. The jagged “All Your Base” is crazy too, and closes the album out perfectly. The two remixes at the end of the album bring refreshing takes to the dark undertones of “Apologize Later” and “Drano.”
Overall, with Hundred Year Darkness, AJ Suede and Small Professor deliver an eerie and captivating body of work that is striking and memorable. Small Professor’s beats are eclectic and jarring at times, while AJ Suede is able to bring vivid, imagery-heavy rhymes that are influenced by his own experiences and observations from the dystopian world around him. It’s a great album that I recommend everyone check out and support!