Top $ Raz, The New Flesh album review
Top $ Raz takes a huge leap on sophomore LP, The New Flesh...then lands smack into the same loquacious pot holes littered throughout his debut, Spilled Milk. For fifty-eight minutes, the Far Rock, Queens native sheds his lyrical skin -- efficiently wielding his style, adding a few extended metaphors to his burgeoning utility belt. His near trademark over-emotive delivery is still in tow, but when he steps outside of this exasperating default, sky’s the limit.
Take “The Man” for example, a J Monopoly produced, neck-snapping antidote for audial boredom that Raz wrecks shop all over. It’s unexpected in the best sense possible, built to carry the club or a cross-country-car-ride. Same for the haunting “The Holy Ghost” where his conversational flow bends in unpredicted directions, and the infectious, organ-injected “Cold Fresh.” Ciph Diggy (of the Sleepwalkas) steals the show on “Don’t Mind” -- also featuring Alvietron -- crudely rapping, “It may sound extra, / But I hope you don’t mind I want to digest ya / So when I pass gas your smell will fester / And everybody around will know you’re mine. / Spray some pine air fresh-ner.” All parties came correct though, including Coole High who masterfully crafted an undeniably effervescent backdrop that’s smooth and funky in all the right places. Absolutely an album standout.
“I’m at war with the gods for the sake of my tomorrow / You’re on Amateur night. / I’m down in hades with Apollo. / But they cannot pierce me, my flesh is to hollow / They can only scratch me on the records or Serato / Surrounded by the fiends and the addictions that they follow. / Scratchin on they neck, or scratching on the lotto,” raps Raz over “The One’s” plodding bass line that does little more than rumble all the way to redundancy. It’s unfortunate really, considering the cut contains some of LP's most potent extended metaphors. “Jack & Coke Flow” might be the best one minute-and-six-seconds on the entire album, highlighting his natural storytelling abilities.
Top $ is excellent at conveying emotion through his rhymes. Almost every lyric is heartfelt, especially when touching on his Far Rockaway, Queens environment growing up. But that over-emotive delivery drags too many songs towards corny territory. “Mountains” is the albums first cut and the first cut that requires an immediate reach for the skip button. “Nothing”, “Better Days” and “Golden” might as well be the same song -- introspective and infected with subpar bars -- flooding the album in repetitiveness and “Get Mine” is the definition of filler.
At 16 tracks in length, The New Flesh is easily five tracks too long. But the real victory is in the additional range Raz conveys. He’s wielding his style more efficiently. He’s sharpened his metaphors. He’s attacking tracks from different angles and directions and never compromises his strengths solely for sake of experimentation. He never sacrifices his uplifting message and solid footing in positivity for the sake of chasing pop-swill acceptance. The New Flesh is an easy, unoffensive listen loaded with integrity and -- once those loquacious layers of excess are peeled off, tossed out and forgotten completely -- replay value. Progress in itself in every sense of the term.
PURCHASE TOP $ RAZ'S THE NEW FLESH
READ THE-QUOTABLE'S SPILLED MILK ALBUM REVIEW