It’s been a little over a month since Savior Monroe presented his audibly cinematic full-length album “Lost Innocence Awakening” to the world. Cinematic indeed as it took me that entire month to soak in the fabric of all that is “LIA“. From its song arrangement, vivid storytelling, little bursts of commentary, & bars full of thought provocation Savior Monroe brings us for a deep dive inside a journey he has crafted for all willing to listen. A sucker for storytelling, not only does Savior Monroe execute stories in peak form he is also to drive home some inspirational messages & meanings that drive home like social commentaries aimed to uplift.
There is a certain journey Savior Monroe is taking us on & he gives us guidance from beginning to end via the song notes provided on his Bandcamp page for the album. I’ve decided to include these to add some context behind the songs as I review them one by one as a listener. I spent a lot of time with this album & as usual, I will give my individual breakdowns of each. Here is the journey I took alongside Savior Monroe well taking in “Lost Innocence Awakening“.
Savior Monroe: This is the journey of Savior Monroe and how he awakens the God within, allowing him to add power to his words and negate the Apocalypse with music. “
Savior Monroe: “The Rip” The end starts at the beginning. The world is being ripped apart by mother nature, technology, weaponry and other threats from those on top of the hierarchy. It is up to the Savior to set things straight using the power of words and influence, and what better way to do it than with music.
01 “The Rip” – I was instantly brought in from the instrumental roaring into Savior’s first verse. Right off rip I was met with “The Rip” thriving with imagery & a Red Dead reference! The narrative is laid out for an album chocked full of depth that takes multiple listens to begin to interpret. It becomes clear upon the introduction that you’re in for some top caliber storytelling.
Savior Monroe: “Past Self” In order to prepare for and combat the end of the world, Savior Monroe decides to go back in time and warn his younger self about the future to prepare him for what’s about to come. The key to saving the world is to make sure Savior continues to do music despite the trials ahead of him.
02 “Past Self” – Telling his younger self not lose itself, Savior dives inside an inner struggle between a young him. He goes on speaking on his knowledge & lessons well-providing guidance. The lyricism is polished & engaging enough that he is able to pull you into his messages & “Past Self” is one of my favorite examples of it on the album.
Savior Monroe: “Stay In Your Lane” As Savior Monroe grows and becomes more attached to music, there comes times where he is enticed to do something else. Luckily God put people in his life to keep him on the straight and narrow living positively so he can continue to chase his dream to be an artist. Little does he know the world depends on it.
03 “Stay In Your Lane” – I love the reflection element of this album, & after listening over & over I catch new things each time. The detail behind each record on “Lost Innocence Awakening” is pristine & this story of a few key people God has placed inside his path steering him to stay on the right track in life is portrayed excellently.
Savior Monroe: “Guilty Until Proven Innocent” Once Savior Monroe becomes confident with his skill as an artist, he develops the mentality that he can murder every other artist. But if you’re a strong enough ally, he’ll recruit you. So he teams up with Kyo and continues to chase his dream and improve his craft.
04. Guilty Until Proven Innocent (feat. Kyo) – Lucky for Kyo his recruitment spares his life as we digest the first feature on the album. “I’m guilty of killing in profound ways“& in ways that perfectly defines this song. “Not even Armageddon can end the type of war we in“….the quotables here are too many to mention. Even listening over and over to this project I find different things upon each take.
Savior Monroe: “Touch The Clouds” Savior Monroe continues his onslaught and elevation with his music and recruits another powerful ally who goes by the name of 1 I Sinny. Together they continue their lyrical rampage.
05. Touch The Clouds (feat. 1 I Sinny) – At first, the beat to this one fell a bit overpowering verses the vocals to me on “Touch The Clouds” one with 1 I Sinny. Yet as it went forward the ongoing repeat “guitar” I believe is hard to miss hypnotizes you & the emcees go bar for bar with solid execution from both.
Savior Monroe: “Never Satisfied” After years of work and elevation, Savior Monroe realizes that no matter what he does he will not be able to please everybody. Despite that realization, he continues to pursue music and elevate.
06. Never Satisfied – It’s a MARK COOPER production & a fine one at that plus “I’m in the studio eighteen hours, getting it in because it gave me power“… Well, Savior, it shows. It’s always the hardest albums to critique when I myself find myself having anything “critical to say about it“. In “Never Satisfied” is Savior VS EVERYBODY. Embedded in these lyrics are messages I feel aimed directly at society & they hit when you hear them. When the beat switches up in this song MARK COOPER shines behind a shining emcee. A standout track on the album.
Savior Monroe: “Flesh N Blood” After the revelation that music isn’t the only thing he’ll need to become the God responsible for saving the world, Monroe increases his knowledge and skill simultaneously. He develops the skills and the wisdom to negate the end of the world and begins to do so aggressively by killing all of those not down for his cause. The corrupt, blind and manipulative.
07. Flesh N Blood – “He ain’t got a third eye so he don’t see like that” over the powerful instrumental. I love the way the beat switches up here to as the words “Flesh N Blood” come in. Powerful messages coincide with that instrumentation as well here in a continuation of Savior’s story.
Savior Monroe: “The Same Us” Savior Monroe’s next step in his journey is to reveal the corrupt authority system, so he sets out to expose those abusing their power. Once exposed, the awaken can handle them appropriately.
08. The Same Us – A modern aged version of “Fuck The Police” this record feels like a new twist with boom bap slash lo-fi vibes. FUCK TWELVE, & the abuse of power that certain individuals possess. It’s a vivid description of this twisted society & fucked up system of today.
Savior Monroe: “Threat To Society” Savior Monroe searches further and finds out the corruption is deeper than he originally thought. The children are being turned into weapons. So in order to awaken the world, he exposes the secret behind the child rebel soldiers. From this point on, Savior decides to focus on saving the children, because they are the future.
09. Threat To Society – In a battle against life’s ills Savior Monroe comes off as a threat to this society. He illustrates throughout his verse in elegant form. A storytelling natural ….murder. MURDER…kill….KILL….had me feeling homage to Nas or at least reminiscent. Savior Monroe is in polished arm on this entire project. Attacking “threats” all over the world in a public service announcement to watch out for your children.
Savior Monroe: “How Many Views” Savior focuses on the young ladies after he exposes the child rebel soldiers. He finds out that social media is one of the main weapons used against our young, vulnerable girls. It acts as a drug and every level of attention is like a stronger hit. Sally Peterson is a huge example of this and her following is massive. So Savior believes once he exposes her, the rest of the females falling victim to the ills of what is started through social media will change as well.
10. How Many Views – Thirst traps galore for females lost in a world of searching for views. Another great example of storytelling but what’s most impressive isn’t just the clear visuals painted via lyricism but the extremely catchy chorus this song drives home. Breaking down the breakdown of a girl swept through the effects of being trapped in the chase for views.
Savior Monroe: “A Place Called Home” Savior Monroe continues his journey to save the youth by going back to his neighborhood. He runs into a young black boy who resembles his youngest brother. He decides to study and focus on him. Once he has gathered enough information he can use that to save all of the young, black underprivileged youth from not only his own neighborhood, but from all over the world. Thank God for our children he chants as he continues his journey to negate the Apocalypse.
11. A Place Called Home – A trip back home in what feels like self-analyzation in an intense version. There was a particular chunk of bars here that grabbed me, I’ve included them below. “A Place Called Home” became home as one of my favorites on the album.
“Wasn’t my dad but he played the role
Another father figure and he would take control
I would praise the code and never break the mode
Until that crazy motherfucka would take the soul
Of my momma shook, no wonder I’m a crook
Now my granny want me to read a Bible book
Nothing in this bitch was teaching me survival
Tryna trick a little kid just to feed the idols”
– Savior Monroe
Savior Monroe: “Seraph” Even with all of the knowledge and power Savior Monroe has gained, it still isn’t enough to accomplish his goal. Eventually his mother falls ill and passes away from Cancer, one of the things Savior Monroe is trying to provide a coping mechanism for. Even though she passes, Savior is blessed with the strength and additional power from her to continue and eventually complete his journey.
12. Seraph – My favorite song on the album. Having lost my Grandfather to cancer & my father at a young age this song hits home as I sure it does for many who’ve been affected by the monster that is Cancer. Beautiful record.
Savior Monroe: “Salvation” Once Savior Monroe gained the additional strength from his mother becoming his guardian angel, there was nothing stopping him from having the power to stop the Apocalypse and save the world with his music. He is the hero we all need. No longer must we wait for the resurrection of a fictional character.
13. Salvation – The fast bouncy flow that comes in right off that bat grabs you, & then this voice taunts behind it as it drives forward. “So you’re looking for a miracle to save our souls, but you never gonna get it from the dead he rose…” chants from the voice of Savior Monroe on this insane production. Insane in a fantastic way. This album builds & grows as it goes. It’s a progressive story to tell is really catapulted by the production that sandwiches it all together.
Savior Monroe: “Blinded” Through all of the criticism, doubting, and deception, Savior Monroe finally Awakens and becomes the God he has been trying to become all of this time. His mission is complete and he can finally prepare to stop the Apocalypse with the power of his words and music.
14. Blinded (feat. MoMo) – No memes with this MoMo. In reference to the song, I haven’t walked the same shoes but I definitely resonate with what’s being said here & personally found relatable moments. This album was enjoyable to listen to in it’s entirety to me & I’ve truly enjoyed the time I’ve spent over and over listening in what I would definitely call one of my more thorough breakdowns.
Savior Monroe: “Reawakening” This is the alternate ending of what could have happened had Savior Monroe not went on his journey. Technology takes over and becomes God instead, and they take over the humans and control them just like the humans used to control technology, essentially turning us all into slaves.
15. Reawakening – An alt ending to a story spun from a web of lyrical fine details. “Reawakening” closes out this incredible story with one ear-twisting finish. “Created from chrome dust’… well this chrome dust certainly has stirred up something great. It took me a few listens & the track notes to understand what at first listen sounded like an audible experiment before realizing I was actually hearing the transition into the technology takeover. The panning effects and deeper voice bridging verses, all as the song becomes more digitized. An alternative ending worthy of finishing an album soaking with creativity.
In closing, we have a serious competitor in terms of albums not just in the Detroit area but nationally with this one. There have been some solid offerings to take in this year but honestly, 2019 has been a slow start for me. In terms of new music, it’s only been a handful of projects I’ve truly got stuck on. This one right here though! I’m expecting it to adorn a heavy rotation over the coarse of the year. Savior Monroe takes us with him through his incredible story, amassed with a brilliant arrangement, & top-notch production. From beginning to end, to even the alt end, it’s almost as if I don’t want it to end. There a very few artists that are able to articulate & execute a concept album such as this, yet this one is executed in incredible form. 9/10
Verdict Album Review “Keep Livin” By Brandon Scarber “Real Name No Gimmiks”
KEEP Livin for tomorrow is not promised!!
By Brandon K. Scarber (Real Name, No Gimmicks)
In 1991, Geto Boys released “My Mind Playin Tricks On Me” via their magnum opus We Can’t Be Stopped on Rap-a-Lot/ Priority Records, who doesn’t know the timeless lyrics:
“At night I can’t sleep, I toss and turn…four walls just staring at a nigga. I’m paranoid, sleeping with my finger on the trigger…But I ain’t goin’ out without a fight…” – Scarface [of Geto Boys, raps]
This song with these specific lines, is the first time in hip-hop/rap we experience an artist describing issues with mental health and dealing with it in real time. But, it definitely wasn’t the last time we would hear it on wax, or deal with it either.
From Mac Miller’s death to XXXtenacion, Capital Steez [Pro Era], Juice WRLD and documented accounts from Eminem, Joe Budden, and recently Big Sean and Charlamagne the God, hip-Hop/rap awareness on mental health has grown over the years. Verdict’s coming of age shall be no different!!
VERDICT, a Detroit bred emcee and lyricist, is the new artist to watch. Verdict dropped his first project Eastside High back in 2014; and now he’s back with KEEP Livin. A project filled with vivid storytelling and visceral bars, delivered in an entertaining way.
He’s unafraid to address the taboo of mental health and its relationship with social media. Unapologetically, he tackles musical withdrawal, stagnated successes, public acceptance and validation.
All of these things drive artists and creatives, at times to fall into depressive mind states and situations. The feeling of maintaining one’s own perceived “hype” and/or success, or the keeping up of appearances to maintain a status, which can become ultimately a liability to the artist and/or creative.
Not to mention, the elusive RESPECT from fellow artists and creatives, who could be considered peers? But let’s be honest, Hip-Hop/Rap is a blood sport!! Verdict gives us the realness from a black man’s perspective who is taking control of his life and career.
Most artists are spewing clickbait, and/or more concerned with the superficial “comments,” “hearts,” “likes,” “shares,” and/or “views.” Verdict, on this project is openly talking about not being immune to these divisive things as well. At the same time, he is doing the handy work of dispelling what it means to be an emcee and lyricist in Detroit and beyond. He is an artist, creating music aka stereo therapy!!
KEEP Livin, is not just his manifesto but a war cry to all the refugees of the culture who’ve dealt with similar issues and circumstances. KEEP Livin is only 8 cuts! There are some bangers, conscious tracks, introspection, and pretty much something to satisfy any type of listener. This isn’t your regular degular!!!
I do not believe he did this in vain. Maturity is woven into the lyrics and songwriting. It is heartfelt throughout the project and it is refreshing!!! Keep Livin should surpass Verdict’s past records “Feelings” and “Scenario” Feat. Neisha Neshae, as they both gained some radio successes and premiered on MTV. KEEP Livin is another strong entry into his musical catalogue behind local favorite – College Ain’t for Everybody.
With KEEP Livin the title track, Verdict raps about short term retirement and re-igniting his creativity for music. You feel the hunger pains and growth throughout the track, the same can be said for the “come up story” you hear on the Eminem sampled Don’t Lose Yourself. Verdict is beaming with vigor.
Applause to the Production team. They took creative risks and it’s paying big dividends throughout this project. Quarter Pound Music did most of the heavy lifting on this project with 6 of the 8 tracks to his credit. The Snap! song “The Power” sampled on Verdict’s Hectic will definitely catch you off guard. On JODY, the way Quarter Pound Music flipped 2 Pac’s “Hail Mary” was solid too!!
Verdict refuses to dumb down his content to the mumble rap. What You Know has single potential. It’s a summer time vibe that’s sure to be heard cranking out plenty of whips cruising down Jefferson Ave to Belle Isle this summer. On July 19, which closes the project combining Mary J. Blige and Roy Ayers’ brings everything back home for the listener.
With all of this content, Verdict has the talent, but I don’t think he has fully found his voice or place within the music community of Detroit and beyond. Maybe, his music is bigger than the city? But, at any rate, with KEEP Livin, he is definitely headed in the right direction.
Rise up, Gunston and E. McNichols!!!
Benofficial Music Certified!!
DetroitRap.com Review – Crimson Alchemist – “4H” EP
Released on Valentine’s day back in February ‘4H” is work reflective of the cover it bares above. Crimson Alchemist, heart in hand, putting it all out there, in the name of love. A four act “4H (For Her)” plus a double bonus of tracks after. Crimson Alchemist is here to speak, explanations with verbiage, and she knocks it out the park in terms of its delivery.
“Fin” leads with Crimson Alchemist awaking from warning packed dream, gracing an exhilarating production from Mark Cooper as she asks “if this is the end, if this is the last time“. The sing-song hook ties a descriptive yet personal dive into analytical storytelling and top-notch verbiage. A Jay-Z reference to “Song Cry” felt right and the song is a driving introduction as it sets the stage for “4H”.
With “Chauffeur” we travel through a more jazzy lo-fi story of cruising around as a love connection blooms. Reminiscing of time spent and questioning where things are headed are painted with the vivid descriptive bars of Crimson Alchemist. The chorus is also aided by Lion Taylor bridging it all together with what was my favorite chorus on the album. Finally we hear rain falling we are presented with some introspective conversation that builds suspense as we move forward.
A challenge of short projects is often as lack of diversity in sounds, with “4 You” the Blizzard produced records continues to prove thats not the case here. By this point we’ve had three very different sounding records, yet the theme here is consistent and I find myself wrapped inside the story being told to us. “4 You” gave me some flashback vibes of an 80’s love song, but Crimson Alchemist keeps it raw and authentic, not afraid to let us inside the battles inside her head space.
“There’s no such thing as a painless lesson, they just don’t exist…” we are are met with this quote among another fitting transition between Act III & IV of the main segment of “4H‘. “Flourish” is that fourth act and my favorite record off the EP. “I put a piece of my soul into all of my work like a Horcrux” is a fitting Harry Potter reference that I feel shows throughout “4H” but “Flourish” is a deeply honest self reflection that had me listening over and over. Closing out in spoken word, the closing of the main segment of “4H” feels complete, a terrific exercise of one’s honesty touching on the subject of love, not only the love of another but the love of one self. The love one deserves.
Before we head out, we are also treated with two bangers from Crimson Alchemist both produced from one of Detroit’s favorite music creators Blizzard and both are further more solid examples of Crimson’s abilities. “Yes Yes” brings a dope verse from A-Minus and “People Mover” closes us out with another strong showing of lyricism. All in all “4H” carries it’s energy from start to finish, gives us a strong visual with descriptive storytelling, and is an excellent showing from the up & coming artist.
Stream/Listen to Crimson Alchemist “4H” on your favorite platform here:
REVIEW: COMMiSSiON- GROWiNG UP
The editor finally tells his own story.
Modern independent musicians wear many hats, from guiding the production of the music they love, directing merch and marketing, and working the mechanics necessary to get their music heard. Likewise, content creators have to stay on their toes to contribute consistently; staying in touch with the game and building relationships with everyone in and out of the machine is essential.
Joe Commisso, aka COMMiSSiON, also serves as the editor and webmaster of DetroitRap.com, creating content that supports and reviews Detroit music. He also supports Detroit acts directly at shows and events, and has been actively performing and preparing his own contribution to the discussion about Detroit hip-hop.
As the new decade opened, Commission released “GROWiNG UP” across platforms and chose to weave a narrative about his past as his first full project.With appearances from VStylez, Kid Vishis, Jonnie Morris, Sin Crawford, and Redman, there is an edge to GROWiNG UP that reflects the struggles that COMMiSSiON encountered growing up on Carlisle Street in Detroit. JRGotTheHits, who helmed the majority of the production on the album, provided him with a synth-heavy soundscape that is sparse enough to allow Joe to do his thing while incorporating a good live feel that should translate well in Joe’s performances.
Standout tracks include “Tell Em,” “Too Much,” and “Flagrant,” where Pontiac’s Sin Crawford drops a notable verse. COMMiSSiON does a great job of maintaining a subtext of growth throughout the tape, and the album climaxes with “Rapper Dad,” where Joe balances music with maintaining his connection with his family.
Overall, GROWiNG UP is a solid project. Making a thematic album for a debut is challenging, as streaming playlists don’t always allow today’s listeners an opportunity to hear records in context. Nevertheless, the songs can stand on their own, and it will be interesting to see how COMMiSSiON and JRGotTheHits continue to build chemistry. As we look forward to future projects (and content) by COMMiSSiON, we can bet that his music will stay true to what those of us who are music multitaskers already know — having balance is the most important thing.
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