Rhakim Ali - When The Smoke Clears [Mixtape]

Albany's Rhakim Ali [アリ] releases his debut project When The Smoke Clears via Inner Ocean Records where it is administered in the mixtape format. IOR is also offering a limited run of physical cassettes which include a bonus track titled "You Should Know" featuring Swooty Billz and Ca$ino Cam. The project boasts guest verses from a host of independent hip hoppers including Henny L.O., Blue November, Crosby, Fly Anakin, Cameron Butler, and Lord Apex. Production credits go to Sixpress, Family Event, Ohbliv, Stan The Beatsmith, RBE, KVMI, Frost, and Ali himself. To summarize the sounds I'd say the project is characterized by multisyllabic rhyme focused lyrics delivered with a mellow flow over laid-back, sample-based beats with jazz influences.

Throughout WTSC, we get a series of somber samples exposing the violence that plagues our nation. In the intro, we get clips about the youth's necessary reliance on gang's for guidance and the ever-present fear of being shot that comes along with such a situation. The next skit is called "War" and featuring a young boy talking about his all too familiar experience of hearing gunshots and seeing their morbid effects. An older boy explains how he himself is forced to carry weapons of his own for protection.

The last skit is a psychologist explaining the implications of his study of the drawings by children from different racial groups. He found that the Black child is three times more likely to draw an armless figure, alluding to a sense of helplessness among Black youth. Additionally, Black children often leave out the faces of figures, indicating that they don't feel a strong sense of existence. He explains this lack of a sense of self by pointing out that "the Black child who is forced to live in a hostile world may disappear in self-defense." What's worse is that "a child who has this on his mind, cannot be a child."

These three skits frame the rest of the mixtape as if to imply that Rhakim Ali is among these retreated youth. The only difference is that, rather than relying on the gang's perpetuating the violence, he turned to the art of lyricism for salvation. This certainly feels like the type of project that needs to be listened to straight through so if you can find a 40-minute chunk, press play and explore the results of Rhakim's retraction.

Top Tracks:
"Monologue" (Prod Family Event) 
"Sketches" ft Lord Apex (Prod KVMI)
"Inhalation" (Prod Frost)

"While you were selling crack since the 5th Grade
I was in the back writing raps trying to get paid"