Conway’s New Mixtape Features Royce 5’9, Styles P, Prodigy & More (Audio)

Absent in much talk about the inter-generational divide in Hip-Hop today is the discussion about why so many are drawn to the so-called “mumble rapper” MCs: two reasons might be the overriding emphasis on texture and atmosphere in their music, alongside their relentless focus on the darker side of life.

None of this is new, of course. Hip-Hop and Rap have always been concerned with violence in all its forms, but what is different is the way intense mood in this music seems to be more important than lyricism, or even musical complexity. It’s all about setting the scene.

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But it’s not only Trap merchants who get this. While the sounds of the South have infiltrated the airwaves, at the same time another revolt of equal or even greater importance has been underway, with inauspicious origins located in Upstate New York, Buffalo to be precise under the aegis of Griselda Records.

Today marks a step in the Griselda journey, with Conway The Machine’s G.O.A.T, or “Grimiest of All Time” coming out as he marches forward with a Shady Records partnership. He, along with his MC brother, Westside Gunn and other Griselda affiliates signed a deal with Eminem’s label in March. Conway’s latest offering sees a more subdued delivery style and is a conversation, of sorts, between the Up North MC and two producers Griselda stable-mate, Daringer who crafted most of the music on the album and Los Angeles MC/producer, Alchemist who produced one.

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Also featured on G.O.A.T is an array of guests representing the NYC-Detroit nexus: Raekwon, Royce 5’9, Styles P, Lloyd Banks, the late Prodigy, and Griselda teammate Benny on two tracks. Combining the talents of these artists is a smart move as the influence of predecessors is a key reason as to why Griselda’s output has such impact.

Much of G.O.A.T, in tone and content, seems like it springs direct from the mind of esteemed indie-Rap luminary, Roc Marciano who has built a career telling the stories of New York’s mean streets. G.O.A.T follows his lo-fi aesthetic, but strips everything back even further to a kind of dystopian, core minimalism with no room for excess, or sentiment. Central to the interest of Conway as an MC is his no-nonsense style: his delivery rarely moves from a kind of straight storytelling, no need for embellishment.

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Announcing the 10-track release, Conway said: “Christmas comes early! The hardest beats and the illest lyrics I promise you!” Certainly true, as one of the highlights on the release is the Daringer-produced “Die on Xmas” featuring Benny that has a definite groove and is a kind of reworking of an archetypal ‘90s beat. Equally impressive is Alchemist’s turn on “Trump” – a song that does not seem to be about the current controversial leader – that has flourishes of almost ornamental drum-rolls and an extended discordant sound creating a mood of definite unease in the background.