Through the first quarter, Has-Lo is the front runner for the Roc Marciano Award for Chain Swinging, Bell-Ringing, East Coasted, Blunts from Bodegas rap. If there’s a surfeit of adjectives in that last sentence, credit the density of Has’ writing. Easy listening this is not. In Case I Don’t Make It is a suffocating walloping listen, like baking in a sauna or waiting in the car with the windows rolled up in in August. Rap to make dogs die.
If that doesn’t sound fun, it’s not. In fact, there may not be a less light-hearted record released this year. But not since Marcberg has a record so punishingly occupied the opposite end of the spectrum. The same people worshipping KRIT’s trunk muzik nouveau ought to appreciate this too. It’s unabashedly cerebral but hard-core, aware of its place in tradition (the footprints of Mobb Deep, It Was Written, Black Moon, Wu-Tang all haunt this record) without biting. If you’re tired of hearing those inspirations reconstituted, Has-Lo folds them into a compelling personality — one riddled with doubts about religion, politics and life and death. Suffering string samples and anguished piano loops. Doubts and doomsday fears. Another win for Mello Music Group. Has-Lo hasn’t made it yet, but he’s taken a big step.
MP3: Has-Lo-“Fiber Optics”