Max Bell is flush.
RZA and GZA were right: You have to read the labels. If you don’t, you might get poisoned. Oakland based independent label Hot Record Societe released Chester Watson’s Space Nobility (review here) last year. Their latest release comes from 22-year-old Santa Ana rapper/producer Broke/ (the slash is intentional), whose five-track EP Sketches dropped earlier this month.
The title is a misnomer. Broke/ spent time on these songs. These weren’t crafted in haste. Primarily self-produced, the beats rank among some of the bedroom boom-bap I’ve heard in the last month. Atmospheric and swirling, they clip to the pulse of the MPC pads. They’re not meant to stick, they’re simply meant to temporarily soundtrack meditative, sticky-induced sojourns.
Lyrically, this is a break-up EP. Throughout Broke/ remains haunted by love lost, aiming for catharsis and clarity between the sample hiss and ice clinking in his glass of Jameson. He’s not moping or inconsolable. He’s honest, getting his mind right with the bars and the brews. There’s a good chance Bukowski is on his bookshelf.
All the above said and meant, Sketches doesn’t reinvent the belt-driven wheel. But that was never its intention. Prince Paul and Diamond D are name checked in the same song (“Bruises”) for a reason. Broke/ is familiar with his lineage and seems set on defending it. For now, the results are above par for the course. The next step will be expansion and innovation, adding to the template. That’s probably why Broke included the slash in his name. He knows there’s more to be written.