Conway added From King to a God to his ever-expanding discography months after LULU and No One Mourns the Wicked, EPs respectively co-credited to Alchemist and Big Ghost Ltd. Those affairs prove to be appetizers for this, a consistently striking and highly collaborative full-length that, despite its hospitable quality, is the Griselda member's most exemplary solo release yet -- his most considered display of grim street bulletins and snarling admonitions. Boom bap curriculum designers and scholars mix it up throughout, though DJ Premier turns in one of his heady and elegant productions for the finale, and the contributions of Havoc and Method Man are urgent, no mere accessories to golden-age nostalgia trips.
2020 has been a period of subtle evolution. Locked indoors, each of us - whether we're in the spotlight or not - has been forced to look inwards, to re-assess our lives, paths, and motivations. Conway The Machine hasn't been immune from this. This dystopian year has born creative fruits for the Buffalo talent, long a core factor in the Griselda Records experience.
On "Lemon," a key track from Conway the Machine's must-listen new album From King to a GOD, the Buffalo, NY-based rapper abruptly shifts from detailing a criminal's sentencing to the ensuing collateral damage: "Won't see his daughter graduate / Can't teach his son to drive. " As if such tender nuance (after bar upon bar of brawny inner city lore) wasn't enough to make the song special, "Lemon" is elevated all the more by a verse from Wu-Tang legend Method Man. The Staten Island elder sounds a fraction of his 49 years here, thanks to his tangible enthusiasm at rhyming alongside the ascending Conway, whose rugged delivery owes no small debt to his Shaolin forefather.
The Lowdown: When the city of Buffalo is mentioned within earshot of non-residents, what usually comes to mind are four consecutive Super Bowl losses by the Bills and the town's arctic-like cold weather. But a hip-hop/entrepreneurial collective, consisting of two brothers and their close cousin, have been grinding in the shadows and honing their craft in preparation to put New York's "Queen City" on the map in a major way. No one could foresee that out of Buffalo would emerge one of hip-hop's hardest, most consistent crews, Griselda, featuring the likes of Benny the Butcher, Westside Gunn, and Conway the Machine, who are torchbearers for hardcore East Coast hip-hop.