Cinematic, dark, profound and a gritty ascension into God level dexterity. In short, that’s just a few words you can use to describe Griselda Records emcee, Conway the Machine’s long-awaited debut album, From King to a GOD. Nothing short of a masterpiece and easily not only Conway’s most diverse project to date, but arguably the most diverse and complete project you will hear from the Griselda crew and label. It’s definitely not only at least in the top two or three best Hip-Hop album released this year, but one of the best albums released period here in 2020. As well as one of the best albums or projects released in Griselda’s already pretty solid discography.
The very thematic sounding Daringer-produced intro, From King. In which the beat builds up after the very cleverly placed Alan Watts intro, taken from his, Q and A With God, lecture. Really setting the tone for how great the album is and how much Conway has grown lyrically. With bars such as, “Take one hit of this pressure, I’m feelin’ faded. So many verses of the year that I’ve written, I’m feelin’ jaded. Jail call, ask how he doin’. He said, ‘I feel amazing.’ And that’s when he told me, ‘Watchin’ you make it, I feel I made it.’ Made me think ‘bout how I’m actin’ ungrateful and still complainin’ (Uh-huh). Even though behind the scenes of this industry shit is drainin’.” On the opening track. One of those tracks and intros that gives you that stink face and like so many other masterpiece albums before it. That really sets the tone for how great and masterful the album is. With previously released singles, Fear of God and Lemon. That have features from DeJ Loaf and Method Man. Also really building up the greatness of the album. The production from Hit-Boy, who also produced all of fellow Griselda member, Benny the Butcher’s recent solo album. On, Fear of God, nothing short of amazing. Conway’s level up in his flow and lyrical abilities. Even pushing Meth to deliver what’s still arguably not only the best guest feature on the album, but one of the top verses of the year on, Lemon. When he raps quotable’s such as, “Capone-N-Noreaga watchin’ CNN. Black whip, black tint, y’all ain’t seein’ in. It’s Con and Meth, spread the word, boy, you seein’ ’em. No seein’ ’em, these rappers in the scope, you never seein’ ’em.” As well as, “People said they want that old Meth, well, this the prequel then. I get medieval, some people won’t make the prequel then (Ah). Leave ’em in the fetal position, F it, I’m leavin’ ’em. I use the system, you cowards use euphemisms.”
If you thought the Beat Butcha and Daringer-produced, Lemon, was something. You may love the next two tracks even more. As the very cinematic loops and keys on the Daringer and The Alchemist-produced standout, Dough & Damani. Really lets The Machine get in his bag and the beat switch up on it about it midway through, just nasty. For a track that’s really two tracks in one and will have everyone debating whether Dough or Damini is the better part of, Dough & Damani. That perfectly segues into the Havoc-produced, Juvenile Hell. Another very standout track that features Havoc, Flee Lord and Lloyd Banks. With everyone bringing such standout lyrical performances. That will have everyone debating who had the best verses. Both Dough & Damani, and Juvenile Hell, even arguably the best two tracks on the album or at the very least in the top three. Though the very rugged and powerful, Front Lines. That is placed in between one of two DJ Shay interludes, is pretty dang fire too.
By the time we reach the nearly three quarters point of the album. Conway starts to show more of that versatility we have never really seen on most of his projects until this one. The Murda Beatz-produced, Anza. That features Griselda female emcee, Armani Caesar. One of the more mainstream sounding efforts we have ever heard from Conway in his career, but that he still kills and makes work. Armani delivering a pretty solid guest verse too. While the very introspective and heartfelt Freddie Gibbs featured, Seen Everything But Jesus. Sees both Conway and Gibbs pouring their hearts out in ways we aren’t always used to from them about those they have lost to the streets. Whether to death or jail. That they “regret.” As is sung in part of the chorus.
You know you can’t have a Griselda project without a Griselda posse cut of the core three founding members of Westside Gunn, Conway and Benny. Which is what you get with the very grimy and gutter Beat Butcha-produced, Spurs 3. That sees all three members over the very haunting piano keys and eerie xylophone backdrop rapping about their dripping jewelry, promiscuous women, and trigger fingers. For the very sinister track in which Conway also raps about the influence that Griselda has had on Hip-Hop the past few years. Such bars as, “Griselda, b^ch, we the inspiration. You can see me and Gunn influencin’ all the music these n**as makin’.” Showing how. With Spurs 3 also the third part in Conway’s Spurs series and the first one featuring Westside.
Known more for being one of the hardest rappers and emcees out. Conway sheds that staple with the very emotionally heartfelt, Forever Droppin’ Tears that features ElCamino. A record dedicated to recently a few months ago passed longtime Griselda affiliate and mentor, DJ Shay, as well as all the other fallen friends he has lost. That with all the vulnerability he shows on it. Shows how much Conway has really grown as not only an emcee, but person as well over the years to get to this point.
The album closes out with the very standout Khrysis-produced, Jesus Khrysis. That has some of The Machine’s most bragacious bars with, “Ain’t no rapper stoppin’ my two-three. (Not at all!) That’s the zone I’m in, I write with a golden pen. But lately, I ain’t been writin’. I just been goin’ in.” Also his verse of, “Everything I drop an album of the year contender, here I go again.” So true. As after you add the very soulful DJ Premier-produced standout, Nothin’ Less. That really lets you know this is not only a contender for Hip-Hop album of the year, but album of the year period. With what a masterpiece album that The Machine really delivers here. That really lets you know how much of a “Machine,” he really is on the mic.