D| REVIEWS – Vstylez Brings Us Back To School With “Thornton Melon”.
Roughly four years ago the Detroit hip hop scene was blessed with one it’s most put together & impactful albums of the decade. “At Oddz Til I’m Even” helped establish emcee & lyrical artist Vstylez locally and beyond. It was eighteen tracks of hard hitting, true to form “hip-hop”, storytelling, substance, & a team of an emcees like Royce Da 5’9”, Bumpy Knuckles, Crooked I, Big Gov, Guilty Simpson, Jon Connor, Kid Vishis, Big Pooh, and more. Together the production, features, & the tried and true lyricism of Vstylez shined in near immaculate fashion providing for a brilliant hip hop record.
The Detroit hip hop scene is brewing brand new stories & the underground scene has arguably experienced one of it’s strongest years in recent times. Amongst new faces, taste-makers, & creatives in the scene driving the art form forward one such staple has returned to leave his hip hop fingerprint smack dab on the front page of Detroit’s musical renaissance. This time around Vstylez takes us back to school in an ode to slash play on the 1996 motion picture Back To School starring Rodney Dangerfield. The album artwork perfectly morphs Vstylez & the late Rodney Dangerfield together giving “Thornton Melon” quite the cover.
“Thornton Melon”…..ahhh yes the follow up to the critically acclaimed “At Oddz Til I’m Even” is a shorter adventure than its predecessor but what it lacks in length it more than makes up for with quality cuts. As always join me as I breakdown my listening journey track by track, here is D|REVIEWS “Thornton Melon”.
01. Intro – Pretty self explanatory here – Vstylez sets us up letting us know we can look forward to some “good lyricism & dope abstract beats” over one of those said beats before leading into Ozone.
02. Ozone – With one of the most recognizable samples we get some twilight zone sounds to lace Ozone. The Nottz produced record has Vstylez lacing us with some facts in what sounds like an introverts anthem “at all times I’m alone, I’m in my mother fucking zone….!” “Ozone” extends as a true intro to me with some facts & statements that provide good idea of Vstylez as a vet in the emcee game. It’s a powerful opening record & packed tidbits of life that show knowledge being spilled.
03. Memoirs Of A Daywalker – It becomes obvious about thirty seconds into “Memoirs” that your ears are going to grow accustomed to epic production & Moss continues to provide. Vstylez spills his thoughts, “final thoughts” to be exact, yet only to let us know he still has a lot on his mind. Which is great to hear because the introspection here bodes well with the “Back To School” theme & you can pick a apart pieces where Vstylez is dropping truth that feels aimed for younger generations to learn from.
04. Detropolis – Now this right here is an anthem? Detropolis pays homage to the city & legends of city over a classic brewed Pete Rock canvas. I was lucky to hear this in the studio for a preview prior to the release of “Thornton Melon” & had been dying to hear it again since. I give every album I review the “car test” & let’s just say this particular record has garnered quite the attention of my vehicles speakers lately. A standout record on “Thornton Melon” & one of my favorite hip hop records out of Detroit for 2018.
05. Consistent ( feat. Deion Lucas ) – Coming along for the first feature on the album comes the R&B voice of Deion Lucas of 7 Mile. “You’re like a wish that I made so beautifully true…” in this ode of sorts that plays like a hip hop love song has Vstylez professing the support that is given even amongst vices or imperfections. It’s great to have records with a variety of sounds but sometimes hard to be cohesive when you throw a hip-hop/r&b record inside a bunch of harder hitting tracks. However “Consistent” fits, & it’s beat is infectious the ear. It’s provides the perfect variety in contrast to the songs its sandwiched between.
06. Phenomenon ( feat. M.O.P. ) – My favorite hook/chorus of the album comes together on Phenomenon and legends M.O.P. provide a flawless addition. After repeated listens I can really see this one being a dope music video. Another one of my favorite cuts on “Thornton Melon”.
07. O-Ellis – The first single from “Thornton Melon” this was the first record most of got to hear from the project. I had it pretty heavy rotation earlier this year and coming back for a refresher the track hasn’t lost any prestige. I like the placement on the album – roughly at half way point. The self definition record that gives a profile of the layers of Vstylez. It already stands the test of time & meshes well with the album it prefaced.
08. Roulette (feat. JRGotTheHiTS ) – Producer/Rapper JRGotTheHiTS joins forces with VStylez on this one. “Success is the best revenge” VStylez states as this whole record is sort of a metaphor to game of roulette. A reflection on the struggle and mishaps of life that promotes chasing your dreams vs monetary gains. It’s a relatable record for the artists out there who know that this game isn’t easy but Vstylez continues to provide lessons & if you truly listen into what he is saying there is some terrific advice intertwined with his lyrics. The delivery on this record almost had me feeling like it was an intelligent “whisper” rap. It’s a softer delivery that blends with what I say is the most unique sounding beat on “Thornton Melon”.
09. Respect (feat. Skyzoo) – As we head into the final portion of the album we learn another lesson. Detroit’s Big Gov provides yet another infectious production & thoughts on the “new school” line the opening verse that gives an example of those “new” ones being abolished when they approach a track with legends. An ode to showing respect where it’s due, & Skyzoo comes along for ride trading two great verses that deserve respect on their own merit.
10. Triple Lindy (Feat. KetchPhraze & Finale ) – A lot of people were anxious for another clash & well we are delivered that right after this very record “Triple Lindy” is not to be overlooked. A triple threat of it’s own making we get a local clash of lyrical proportions as KetchPhraze & Finale provide quotable bars back & forth over some Moss production. I love the way this record switches up at the end before Vstylez comes in hard over the guitar laden switch up. Love it.
11. Return of the Kraken ( Clash, Pt. 2 ) ( feat. Kool G Rap, OC, Masta Ace, & KXN) – I might be a tad bit bias because Masta Ace is one my all time favorite lyricists but that fact only elaborates the proof that Vstylez can hold his own with the best of them. This is what folks were waiting for after the legendary clash that took place on “At Oddz Til I’m Even”. There’s really nothing negative that could be said here. It’s a group of legends trading polished bars over a classic sounding hip hop production. I also enjoy how Vstylez once again finishes off the record & although there are no slouches here it does feel as the best has been saved for last & he shines amongst the entourage.
12. Mom and Pops – In closing we get what feels like the most personal record on “Thornton Melon”. From a love for camouflage passed on from mom to staring in the mirror seeing a reflection of pops the storytelling here illustrates a beautiful tale of love for his parents. The chorus is the only segment of the album where you will hear Vstylez singing & it fits perfectly. I’m a sucker for these type of records & it’s one of my favorite on here. Great production by Apollo Brown here as well.
Before we finish we get a hidden gem that comes after Mom and Pops….. “I ain’t the first one I’m the last one out” I’ll call it for now, but it’s a pleasant surprise to those who stay listening past M & P. & ends “Thornton Melon” on an upbeat & chorus driven moment after a couple prized verses to close out the album.
“Thornton Melon” is without a doubt one of the strongest releases to come out the Detroit area this year showcasing a veteran emcee who can flow with the best of them. Vstylez once again proves his knack for putting together classic sounding hip hop records & has brewed quite the concise, consistent, & definitive effort in this release. It’s packed with stellar production & a gang of standout tracks surely set to stand the test of time. It’s a terrific listen for any hip hop head old or new, & if your new well hey – you might just learn something as you get taken to school with this timeless banger packed offering. Overall rating: 9/10
Purchase/Stream “Thornton Melon”: https://songwhip.com/album/vstylez/thornton-melon
“Detropolis” Music Video