Music Quickspins

QUICKSPIN: Conway The Machine – From King to A GOD

The Buffalo MC comes through with his third release of the year, and his best solo work to date

Throughout the last few years, the Griselda crew have solidified themselves as one of hip hop’s most highly regarded acts. With multiple high-quality projects released every year and a consistent signature sound, the group has set a high standard for their releases. On his latest release, founding member Conway The Machine continues the tradition, with yet another gem being added to the crew’s catalogue.

On From King To A GOD, Conway’s mastery of his craft is apparent, and though he was already elite, he is in rare form on this LP. He spends the album’s runtime spitting verses like a seasoned veteran in the genre, even going bar-for-bar with legends like Method Man and Lloyd Banks. His unique drawl — the result of his Bell’s Palsy — paired with his fiery flow and distinct delivery make him completely captivating on every instrumental his voice touches.

Lyrically, the album contains a good balance of Griselda’s signature gritty street raps, and more intimate moments of introspection, grieving and reflection on society’s ills. On “Front Lines,” we see Conway delivering an extremely potent verse responding to the murder of George Floyd, over a grimy, sinister Beat Butcha instrumental that perfectly captures the horror, pain and aggression in Conway’s lyrics.

On the emotional, Erick Sermon-produced “Forever Droppin Tears,” Conway reminisces about close friends that he’s lost over the years, including Griselda producer DJ Shay, who passed away earlier this year. His reflections on losing some of those closest to him and the trauma attached to it are felt through the pain in his voice. It’s a touching moment on the album, and one of the most personal songs in Conway’s entire catalogue.

There are several soundbites peppered throughout the album of DJ Shay being interviewed regarding the Griselda crew, and Conway specifically. It’s clear that Shay had a deep admiration for Conway and his craft, and vice versa, and Conway misses him dearly. These interview clips serve as a fitting tribute for DJ Shay, while showcasing just how highly Conway’s peers think of his abilities.

With From King To A GOD, Conway reminds us how elite of a lyricist he is, while also showcasing sides of himself that fans may not be familiar with. Striking that balance between the street raps, and the new, more personal content, he shows growth while keeping the album’s sound familiar. This project is his most well-rounded work to date, and with it being billed as the prelude to his Shady Records debut, it looks like Conway is gearing up for something special.



Trial Track: Forever Dropping Tears


QUICKSPINS: Benny the Butcher & Smoke DZA – Statute of Limitations

The two New York MCs join forces on gritty Pete Rock-produced EP

Benny the Butcher has spent the last few years turning heads alongside his Griselda Records labelmates. Smoke DZA has spent the better part of this decade being one of Harlem’s premier lyricists. This EP sees the pair exchanging verses over a handful of fantastic instrumentals produced by none other than the legendary Pete Rock, giving this project a classic feel.

Statute of Limitations embodies the signature boom-bap sound of 90s east coast hip hop, without sounding dated or relying on nostalgia as a crutch. Benny and DZA feel at home over these masterfully-produced instrumentals, going back and forth and bringing the best out of each other on every track.

The barrage of bars kicks off almost immediately on the album’s opener “By Any Means.”  The track features the pair weaving in and out of each other’s verses with ease, taking turns every few lines. The duo displays great synergy throughout, both together and with guest features, including Conway the Machine who delivers a show-stealing verse on “Bullets.”

Overall, this EP delivers great bars and fantastic beats, and its short runtime makes it prime for repeat listens. Benny and DZA are at the height of their abilities, and Pete Rock showcases the skill set that proves why he is considered an all-time great in the genre.


Trial Track: “Drug Rap”

Star Bar: 

“Me and Smoke like weed and Coke

Hundred keys of dope hit the port of Miami, via boat

If it’s ’bout paper, we approach

I’m stretchin’, John Legend, pressin’ keys and seein’ notes” (Benny the Butcher on “By Any Means”)


Urban artists meet to connect and create

A street art exhibition that brought together Montreal and New York City artists will be on display for an extra month to allow more urban art lovers to admire the collection of works. Hosted by Station 16, a local contemporary art gallery, NYC meets MTL Street Art Pop-Up Gallery was intended to run from Sept. 8 until the end of the month. The exhibition will now be open until Oct. 31.

During the opening, over 20 artists were invited to participate in a live painting session. It was the New York artists who created a new mural for the Station 16 print shop. Andrea Cook, the creator of the Pussy Power series, contributed her design of a reimagined Chanel perfume bottle to the artistic process by inscribing the title of her series onto the bottle.

Andrea Cook’s contribution is part of her series of provocative pieces titled Pussy Power. Photos by Anna Larovaia.

The exhibition showcases a refreshing diversity of work and includes creations by Concordia’s own Laurence Vallières, Whatisadam (WIA) and Jason Wasserman. Wasserman, who graduated from Concordia in 2004 with a degree in fine arts, is now working as an independent illustrator. “Station 16 is involved in this big cross-section of different styles, and they chose the artists exposing at their gallery accordingly,” said Wasserman, who is also a partner of the Station 16 print shop.

A recurring theme that is present in the pieces by Montreal artists within the exhibition is Canadian, specifically Montreal, imagery. With Wasserman’s illustrations of both cliché and underground sectors of the city and Whatisadam’s iconic Maple Sizzurp Drum, Montreal is well represented.

“Montreal is such a big part of my identity,” Wasserman said about his source of inspiration. “I have so much attachment to this city so, for me, it’s not only a natural but also an authentic theme.”

Wasserman described ‘street art’ as an umbrella term used to describe a variety of art, including styles such as sculpting, stencil graffiti and murals, all which can be found at the NYC meets MTL Street Art Pop-Up Gallery.

By featuring the work of artists from two separate cities, the exhibition successfully merges inter-city street art communities. “Working with other artists is great for learning but also for networking,” Wasserman said, adding that he now follows some of the New York artists on Instagram. “It’s important for independent contractors to network and help one another.”

This is a lesson Wasserman was taught during his time at Concordia. “I spent a lot of time late at night in Concordia’s art studio. I was in my own bubble. The work I created there was sometimes unsatisfying, and I realized it was because I was self-exploring through work that was meant to be created for others to relate to and gain from,” he said.

The gallery is not only a chance for art enthusiasts to see creations that cross international borders, but according to Wasserman, it is also an opportunity for artists such as himself to share and learn from one another.

NYC meets MTL Street Art Pop-Up Gallery will be on display until Oct. 31 at Station 16 Gallery. The gallery is open Tuesday to Thursday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. and on Friday until 5 p.m. Private viewings can also be arranged.

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