Album Review | Passalacqua

This album was released on January 11th this year. Passalacqua is a duo comprised of two MCs named Blaksmith & MISTER. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any work from Blaksmith, but I was obviously introduced to MISTER through his work with ialive. I’m pretty much going into this blind. The reason I’m deciding to check it out is because I watched a music video for one of the songs and was super impressed, so I think I’m gonna enjoy this based off of that first impression. Hopefully the rest of the project is just as good if not better. Every track is produced by Zach Shipps.
There aren’t any songs on this album that I don’t like, so I’ll write about the full project in the proper order of the track listing. It starts off with Water Full of Fins, which isn’t really a highlight for me, but I still like it a lot. It’s a pretty straightforward intro. I really dig the kinda of noisy, Electronic-influenced production here from Zach Shipps. The percussion from Dan Paterson sounds very good too. A lot of the beats on this project kinda reminded me of that last Shredders album, and I think this is a good example of that. The bassline that eventually comes in once the song gets going sounds really great. The opening verse from MISTER is pretty cool, although since this is just an intro it doesn’t seem like he was really going all the way in, you know? It sounds like he was just getting warmed up for the rest of the album. I guess the same thing can kinda be said about the closing verse from Blaksmith. I really liked his flow though. The verse was only 8 bars, but I dug it. Overall, I think this song is very good. It’s not a highlight for me, but I definitely like it. The following track is entitled Emotional Response. I really love the melodic production here, and the opening verse from Blaksmith is nice. He actually reminded me of the CunninLynguists here for some reason. I can’t say exactly why. He did his thing though. The hook on this track isn’t really anything special to me, but it serves its purpose well enough. MISTER killed that second verse.
The other day I was looking at the backs of my hands
And I’ll be damned if I didn’t recognize what I saw
Nose to the grindstone, I’ve been working, and, man…
All my knuckles are busted, and my fingers are raw
In public I pocket ‘em, so I guess I understand
If you assume from a distance and think you know it all
But I would reconsider that entirely, man
You say you hustle, but your hustle has slowed to a crawl
He reminds me more of Verbal Kent. I think he’s a better rapper than Verbal Kent though. They just have kinda similar voices in my opinion. That’s not to say that Verbal Kent isn’t dope; I just prefer MISTER’s style personally. Anyway, the featured verse from D.S.Sense on this song is fire. I’d never heard of her before hearing this track, but I was beyond satisfied with her performance. She kinda reminded me of Psalm One here. Overall, I like this track even more than the opening song. I think this one is dope. It’s hard for me to decide who had my favorite verse. I wanna go with MISTER, but they all did a nice job. Anyway, track 3 is a major highlight for me entitled Catmandance.
This is the one single that I referenced in the preamble to this review that I had heard prior to listening to the full album. This track really caught me off guard, mainly because it’s so different from anything off that Sounds of Pets EP by MISTER that I reviewed last year. I love the Electronic, kind of Industrial sounding instrumental here. I really like the filter on Blaksmith’s vocals, and he did a great job with the opening verse too.
Wires got crisscrossed, master got ticked off
Master got hip tossed in a dutch oven
Now I’m slumming like a beach bum
Teased with the push of another big button
Cat man coming, cat man coming
Tell everybody that the cat man coming
Streets so irregular they read like novellas
Let the storytellers tell it if the storytellers tell it
I feel like the hook kinda has some Techno influence to it, which is cool. I know they’re from Detroit, so that would make sense. Anyway, I think the second verse is even better than the first one. His flow here was really nice. The saxophone performance from Dean Tartaglia is absolutely superb as well. That final verse from MISTER is really what caught me off guard though. He absolutely spazzed on this track, which I was not expecting at all. His rapping was so tame on Sounds of Pets, so to hear him snap on this track was a big surprise for me. I love it though.
Not a time better to get it all together
Batter batter, gotta bring it tough like leather
What a hell of a setup, hadn’t meant for the meta
But I never know what the pen will develop
See, it’s part of a dilemma that I doubt will ever let up
Part of a dissent that I really wish that I wasn’t privy to
Lot of little ones wondering how to get a leg up
Better listen to intuition and keep the other voices at a minimum
I think this song is fire. The dark, electronic production is really cool, and both of the MCs killed it. This shit is dope af. The music video is really goddamn cool too by the way. I almost forgot to mention that. Anyway, the following track is called Feral Kids. The melodic hook doesn’t really do much for me personally, but I love the production on this track. I just feel like the drums sound really nice. The first verse from Blaksmith is great too. The character he was describing kept me interested throughout the full performance
I heard he was a rapper and a giant
He was on the church steps, but he was kicking science
Drawing on the dollars, studying the cosmics
Surrendered to the woman and he traveled by toboggan
Break the brittle system like a cheddar biscuit
Taking all the swords to the picket fences
Taking all this war to the boards and switches
Loving two or more in his morning britches
I liked his verse more than that of MISTER, but both of them did a nice job. It seemed like Blaksmith’s verse was longer, but I might be tripping. MISTER still did a nice job though.
No finger foods, no fickle feuds, see, when you lit the fuse
Those little things don’t cut the mustard like they used to do
Keeping it moving on that walk, man, Sony
Catching people misstepping and putting ketchup on their coneys
Overall, the song is definitely not one of my favorites, but I do still like it. The production is tight, and I enjoyed both of the verses. It’s a good song. It’s followed by a major highlight entitled Apophenia. Once again, I love the percussion here. The opening verse here from Blaksmith is fire.
Finding meaning in things that don’t have meaning
Takeaway all the things that don’t have meaning
Leave you with a half ton of humanity
Fill the bathtub with my anatomy
My flesh fail that paper bag test, forgive my vanity
Rip your heart out like Kano, Mortal Kombat fatality
Just ran into my ex, she was at the Baltimore Gallery
Saddened to see her lonely, barely spoke to her, she got mad at me
But the backstory of this ex was a Shakespearean tragedy
That’s honestly one of my favorite verses on the whole album if I’m being real. The sung hook from Greater Alexander is wonderful too. I love how soft their vocals are. It sounds really nice over this beat. The second verse from MISTER is also really great. I love how he was pretty much rapping about grief here.
Haven’t seen our garden in so long
Let it grow on, it is all love
Had to bury my best friend in the backyard
Of a house that I know I’ll never make a home of
And so I’m staring at the ceiling
Sober as the morning sun, staring at the ceiling, feeling out of loop
So I pour a cup of coffee like Bob and Emmylou, pursuing the absolute
The closing verse is actually performed by Illingsworth, who killed it. I think he might be my favorite feature on the whole album.
30 vertical OLED screens is how I set scenes
Freddie Mercury Krueger cycling through all your wet dreams
Government got it out for me, even when it's left-leaned
Air bender Zaheer retrieving beers via jet stream
Shoulda kept your hands and necks clean
Ended up in a holding cell in a pair of distressed jeans
Hanging from a bed sheet next to Jeffrey Epstein
Resembling a D/S scene minus the sex swings
There’s nothing I don’t love about this track. The production, hook, and verses are all fire. It’s dope af. The following track, Joni, is yet another highlight for me. I love how traditional the production here sounds. It almost sounds like an old school beat from the 80s, but somehow not dusty and outdated-sounding at all. The hook isn’t really anything special to me at all, but it works. The content also isn’t super interesting to me, but I think they did it really well, so it was entertaining to me. The opening verse from Blaksmith has him approaching someone named Joni who he’s interested in romantically.
What does bring you here? What is it you wear?
What is it about you I don’t want no one aware?
I’ll behave and shit, but upfront I gotta tell you you my favorite
Buy you another drink and I ain’t paid my rent
MISTER comes in right behind him and does a very nice job as well. His flow was smooth as hell.
Cop a cup of cuckoo
Joni, make another pot that I can move through
Or maybe drop a doo doo
I light a match or two though, you know
A gentleman, extension of my pseudo, you know
I settle in, pad & pen and adamant
That at the end I’ll rattle off a rap that I’ll be happy with
I really love the final verse from Blaksmith too. His voice kinda reminded me of Jay-Z at first. Only for a few lines though. Particularly the ones that were performed during the beat break. His flow was really nice too. Overall, I think the song is dope as hell. It’s followed by yet another highlight for me entitled When I Get Out. As the title kinda hints, they’re rapping from the perspective of jail inmates. I absolutely love how cold and dark the production here is. It’s actually kind of eerie. The hook is super simplistic, but I love it. The actual verses don’t start until the final third of the song, and even though they’re relatively short, I think it’s worth the wait. The first one from Blaksmith is great.
Not of this earth, monster from the ocean floor
Double conscience killer when we hit you with okie doke
This cold classic mixed with Anthrax, mixed with Joe Jackson
It’s no accident, more passionate off the malt liquor
Buckets full of blood, what? It’s more thicker
Radical matter splattering all over patterns
When you release the beast, who do you release?
The second verse from MISTER is fire too. His verse seemed a bit more straightforward lyrically.
I keep pacing, and thoughts keep racing
I can’t eat, and both of my hands shaking
I can’t see, my eyes are closed praying
And I don’t even pray, I don’t need a savior
It’s just my options are exhausted
And I’d like to breathe a little fresh air before I go insane
I think the song is dope af despite its brevity. I love it. The following track is called Black & Blue, and I really love the content here. It’s all about how you never really know what somebody is going through in life. I love how sad the production here sounds. It kinda reminds me of the beat to Prosthetic Self-Love by Rav. Blaksmith fucking killed that first verse too.
Have you ever been slapped? Called out your name?
Something grotesque? Now it’s ingrained
Rocking a stain on the side of your face
Never a time or a place to show it, too dark
Bruise marks, who taught you how to be sad?
Throw fits and a tantrum
Tighten the rope while kissing the phantom
My momma said Jesus the answer, he is the answer
Take it up with him but he ain’t answer
So I’m moving on and breaking up with him
The one aspect of this song that I’m not crazy about is the hook from Tunde Olaniran. I think that’s who performs it. It’s not a terrible hook or anything. It’s just kinda jarring to me. I feel like it doesn’t fit that well sonically, but I don’t know. Maybe it’s just because it’s so high pitched and loud. It just caught me off guard. It’s a fine hook though. I really don’t mind it that much. MISTER’s verse was more about emotional pain than that of Blaksmith, who seemed to be rapping more about physical hardships. I love both of their verses, although I’d say I probably enjoyed Blaksmith’s more, which is interesting since MISTER’s verse is way more relatable for me.
I know it too well
For me, a lightswitch will dictate heaven from hell
And when it’s off, it’s ever so hard flipping it
Letting my heart discard the dissonance
The scars gon’ be what they are
And that’s a bitch to come to grips with
But facing ‘em head on will fetch you bigger fish
See, I’m with it, I’m with you, I’m right there too
Never fight the tide, just do what you need to do
Well actually, I don’t know who had my favorite verse. They both did a great job. The sung bridge is really nice. I think that closing verse is performed by SelfSays, but I might be wrong. It’s entirely possible that I credited the features incorrectly. If anyone knows for sure, let me know in the comments. Anyway, the closing verse is only about 8 bars, but it’s very well written. I think the song is dope as hell. It is a little long, and I’m not crazy about the hook, but everything else about it is too good for me to care that much. It’s followed by another major highlight called Prints. I absolutely love how hard hitting the production here is. Once again, it reminded me of something I’d hear on that last Shredders album. The percussion also kinda reminded me of Clipse’s seminal Grindin’ single. The way Blak & MISTER trade verses on this track is awesome too. I feel like this is the one track I would recommend if people really wanted to be convinced that these dudes are dope MCs. This is the one where they are just spazzing out.
Snacking on bags of cracklin', licking red fingers
Writing rhymes on the back of napkins
That’s when rap was a hallucin'on
Brothers spit what came to mind
There wasn’t a bunch of rules to it
Captivating to mind, something like illusionists, I’m losing it
My mama said baby get yo marbles off the floor
But the marbles in the flow, so we gonna keep rapping
'Til we in the Hampton Mansions with the marble in the floor
The chemistry they exhibited on this track is top notch. This shit is dope af. It’s followed by Push & Pull, which isn’t really a highlight for me, but I do still like it. I of course appreciate the unique, hard-hitting percussion. The opening verse from Blaksmith is pretty good. I just kinda wish his flow was a bit more interesting. The hook is very simplistic, but I like it. MISTER’s verse was relatively short, but I really loved how the beat evolved during his performance. The verse itself was dope too.
Avalanches always ‘round the corner
I can see ‘em, I can feel ‘em on my shoulders
And I know they’re wanting more
Don’t get me going, brave the blizzard, now it’s summer
Shed them layers, duck and dodge that thunderstorm
And it’s a doozie, but an umbrella ain’t
Gonna set a sinner straight, or put you center stage
It’s all about that give and take
The song is nearly four minutes, but it just doesn’t feel like there’s much going on here. The final minute or so is taken up by a very simplistic outro, but it’s not bad. I definitely do like the song. The production is tight, and the verses are good. I just feel like they could’ve added more to spice it up a bit, ya know? It’s still a very good song to me though. I fuck with it. The penultimate track is entitled Cash 4 Soul. The relatively melodic production here is nice, and Blak murdered that first verse.
I’m loco, B
I’m the canonized rap samurai from Babylon, I leave throat to feet
So you better roll heavy when approaching me
I throw my weight around town like it’s dope to me
Like a freeloader talking to a master key holder
You tastemakers, breadwinners all toast to me
'Cause I’m a thought leader, cross breeder
You a false preacher, in my mind glad we both agree
The hook is very straightforward, but the grandiose production keeps it interesting. I think I preferred Blaksmith’s verse lyrically, but MISTER’s flow was more impressive to me on his first verse. However, when they both came back in for that last verse Blak’s flow impressed me more.
I swear you’ll get a back hand to the face
Jack leg to the waist, round house, uppercut
Get back if you in the way
Ugly when we break it down
Stick 'em up, shake 'em down
Never saw it coming 'cause I never saw my money
The background vocals from Lisa Stocking that eventually come in during the outro are super nice as well. This song wasn’t a highlight for me on my first listen, but the more I return to it the more I like it. I think it’s dope as hell. The closing track is entitled Window Seat, and it’s yet another major highlight for me. Believe it or not, the production here actually reminded me of the last song from Moodie Black’s latest album. I think it’s fucking amazing. It sounds less dark and a bit more somber though. The song feels very lowkey compared to a lot of the others. I think it’s amazing though. In fact, it’s actually my favorite track on the album. I just love the kind of solemn tone of the production, and the verses are really nice. I especially liked Blaksmith’s weird flow on that last verse. There’s really nothing about this song that I don’t love. I think it’s dope af.

This album is dope as hell. I’m really glad I didn’t let this one slip by me. I’d never heard of this group before, but they ended up really impressing me. I was already into MISTER, but I’m new to Blaksmith, so I’ll have to keep an eye on him. I’ll also be looking out for anything these guys put out in the future. I really don’t even have any consistent gripes with this project to be honest. I think Blak & MISTER have great chemistry, and I love how hard-hitting so much of the percussion here is. The drums on this album are fire. Don’t sleep on this shit. Give it a listen and thank me later. It’s really goddamn great.

Favorite Song: Window Seat
Least Favorite Song: Feral Kids

Score: 88 (A-)