This album was released on Valentine’s Day this year. Che` Noir dropped one of my favorite albums of 2019 and consequently became one of my favorite new artists, so I was super excited when I heard about this project. I originally thought her next album would be called The Essence because she said something along the lines of “The Essence coming soon” at the end of her 2019 album. I don’t know what’s up with that, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, I’m obviously really looking forward to this project since I’m a huge fan, but I’m not expecting it to be as amazing as either of the Thrill of the Hunt albums. In both of the singles that I heard for this project, I actually ended up being more impressed by the features, so we’ll see. I know I’m gonna like this project, but hopefully I end up loving it.
1. Declare War (Intro)
This is a super quick skit which follows the theme of the previous two albums. It sounds like it’s taken from a movie about Greek or Roman mythology. I didn’t realize how short this album was until I heard this intro; the entire project is only 10 tracks, and two of them are skits that are less than a minute long. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised though because her previous two albums were similar in length. Anyway, this track is so short and inconsequential that there’s really no need to discuss it; it doesn’t help or harm the overall album at all to me.
2. Art of War
This beat is actually really fucking dope. It’s not a super hard, gritty instrumental that I’d typically expect a Buffalo gangsta rapper to spit over; this sounds more like something that Jay-Z would’ve spit over in the early 2000s. Che` fucking killed this shit too. I love the violent lyricism. The line about her moving her trigger finger like she’s masturbating was dope as hell, and that little anecdote she rapped about selling a mother her own son’s corpse was insane. The whole song is just one verse, but it’s fire. This shit is dope as hell.
3. Win, Lose or Draw
This beat is surprisingly great as well. At this point, just two tracks in, I was super impressed by 38 Spesh’s production, and I think his skills on the boards seem to be improving at a rapid rate. He’s a really good producer. This beat is more soulful & somber than that of the preceding track, and of course Che` killed it once again. The line about her being unable to have sex for a month because being broke killed her libido was a little T.M.I. for me, but the first verse was great overall.
I had to bite the bullet; got the teeth of a vampire
I’ll creep ’til they can’t find us and sleep with a lamp by us
The danger of a neglected seed ’cause they can’t guide us
Burn a village down and sleep by the heat like a campfire
I like the line in the hook about how a bitch’ll lose her arm for putting a hand on her. That was hard. As you can tell from a lot of the lines I’ve referenced, Che` is a very aggressive, ruthless lyricist. I read one review in which someone claimed that people only like her because she raps “like a dude,” which seemed pretty goddamn sexist to me lol. I’m not exactly sure what the difference between rapping like a guy and like a girl is. I just think it’s lame as hell to categorize things that way, as if women are trying to be like men if their lyrics are violent. Anyway, I like the song a lot; I just kinda wish that the second verse wasn’t so short, but overall the song is really goddamn great to me. This shit is dope.
4. Concrete Jungle featuring Eto & Jai Blakk
This beat is awesome. The first verse from Che` about living in a rough environment was dope. I haven’t really heard enough of Eto’s material to recognize his voice, but I think he performed the hook, which was solid. The verse from Jai Blakk was pretty underwhelming compared to that of Che` Noir, but I guess it was cool overall. I kinda wish Eto had a verse, but the features honestly didn’t really add much to this song in my opinion. I would’ve really appreciated an additional verse from Che` Noir, but the song is still good to me overall. It’s not a highlight, but I fuck with it.
5. Prey featuring Ransom
This was the first single that I heard from the album, and I wrote about it a couple weeks ago. I think the opening verse from Che` is pretty dope, but it’s definitely not one of her best performances. Again, I love the more violent bars, but I’m not gonna pretend to be interested in the lines about shoes. I actually think Ransom stole the show to be honest; he fucking destroyed this shit.
Got the soul of a Vietnam vet
Who’s seen beyond death
In a gurney screamin’ for medics
‘Cause he need his arms checked
Used to commit crimes
Back in ’96 couldn’t picture 6ix9ine
‘Cause when trouble is near
Ain’t nothin’ colorful here
I definitely think this song has one of the weakest instrumentals on the project, but it’s not a bad beat. It just doesn’t really capture my attention. The best aspect of the song is definitely Ransom’s verse in my opinion. It’s a dope track overall.
6. Crown featuring Planet Asia & Street Justice
This was the second single from the album, which I also wrote about back in January. I like this beat a lot more than that of the preceding track, but it’s definitely not the best beat on the project. I think the first verse from Che` Noir is pretty cool, but I expect more than “pretty cool” from her after hearing something like The Thrill of the Hunt 2. It’s not a bad verse at all, but it’s pretty underwhelming coming from her. Planet Asia’s verse was definitely better, but still far from his best in my opinion. Street Justice actually had my favorite verse on the whole song. Overall, I think it’s a good track, but when I saw that all of these artists were coming together on the same song I expected more. I think it could’ve been better, but I still fuck with it.
7. MC Vs. Rapper
This is basically just audio of a boomer explaining why “MCs” are superior to “rappers.” I got nothing out of this track, but I’m not gonna pretend to have a big issue with it being here.
8. Queen City
This song definitely has one of the better beats on the album in my opinion; It’s kinda smooth and melodic, yet more uptempo than most of the other tracks. I’m used to hearing Che` rap at a much slower pace, so it was cool to hear her spit with a relatively fast-paced cadence. The first verse is dope, but I was more impressed by her flow than her actual writing. There’s no hook on this track; she just stops rapping and there’s kind of an awkward silence before she comes back in for the second verse. I think the second verse is a big step up. She’s still teasing The Essence, so that’s interesting. The second verse is actually pretty awesome to be honest. As an overall song, this track kinda leaves something to be desired since it’s just two verses with no hook in between, but I still like this more than most of the other tracks. I think it’s dope.
9. Fruits of My Labor
This song has the best beat on the album in my opinion. It actually made me think of Outkast for some reason; it’s really smooth and almost mystical sounding, like something that could’ve been on ATLiens. I also think this song has some of the best writing on the entire project.
Every time I pour my heart out it’s a flood when I speak
And if you take a sip from it you’ll be drunk from one drink
Enough water on my wrist to fill a tub & a sink
The company I keep, you’ll never see a bum or a leech
Even the hook is pretty good. I think one more verse could’ve made this a lot better, but that could be said for pretty much every track on this project. This is easily one of the best songs on the album in my opinion. It’s dope as hell.
10. Royalty featuring Street Justice & Klass Murda
This song has another great beat, and the more personal content about Che` Noir’s family issues is pretty intriguing. Street Justice actually slaughtered that second verse though. As much as I loved the first verse, I actually think he had the best performance. Klass Murda murdered that last verse too. This is way more emotional and heartfelt than any of the other tracks. Every MC on this track is being more reflective and open about their struggles. I think it’s easily one of the best songs on the album. Not only is the production and content great, but the flows and rhymes are on point as well. This song is dope as hell.