Selections from an artist-in-progress...

Buffalo hip-hop stable Griselda Records dominated 2020, released a hi-octane series of high profile album projects. 2021 opened with the sound of splintering, however, with Conway The Machine widely tipped to leave the stable.

His Shady Records debut ‘God Don’t Make Mistakes’ is still being processed, leaving the hard-hitting rapper to share this new project ‘La Maquina’ instead. Utilising a diverse, multi-talented cast, it’s a broad return, whose energy is coupled with a lack of focus, meaning that it feels more like a stepping stone than a destination point.

That’s not to say that ‘La Maquina’ isn’t enjoyable. Muscular and bold, the JR Swift opener leans in on Conway’s strengths, while the Cardiak production on ‘Blood Roses’ ranks as one of the year’s most immediate, blood-thirsty Stateside rap cuts to date.

‘KD’ finds Conway aligning with Murda Beatz, while the almighty ‘Scatter Brain’ couples the Buffalo MC alongside J.I.D. and Ludacris. Indeed, the highs are almost too many to mention – there’s a special place for ‘200 Pies’ however, and it’s electrifying Alchemist production.

A ‘project’ as opposed to a full-fledged album, ‘La Maquina’ has the feel of bits and pieces being pulled from the cutting room floor. The work of an artist-in-progress, it’s the sound of Conway The Machine trying out ideas, seeing what sticks, and charting his next path. At times addictive and illuminating, it more than whets the appetite for what he’s going to do next.

7/10

Words: Robin Murray

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