Chris Rivers – Delorean (Review)

Chris Rivers, Reviews

Bronx lyricist Chris Rivers has developed his reputation as one of the young MCs on the circuit to keep a keen eye on. A string of solid mixtape releases and heavy feature verses has found the East Coast MC steadily building his acclaim and respect amongst peers and listeners alike. Renowned for being the son of legendary rapper Big Pun, ‘Delorean’ is his debut album release, and it finds him carving out his own niche across the lengthy project.

Opening with the textured, energetic title-track, Chris Rivers sets the tone of the uptempo, dense sounds found across this debut project. Intricate writing and precise flows are exhibited over a rowdy, synthetic production that is perfect for Chris’ complex structures. ‘Bag’ finds the east coast wordsmith embracing the current sound for a relentless, banger beat, and Rivers’ confident delivery makes it a definite success. ‘Chris Time Zone’ is the first in a series of short, boom bap cuts that break up the album, and the rapid-fire spitting is solidly in-pocket, and the soulful beat is head-nodding hypnotic hip-hop at it’s best.

The smooth flows of ‘Old Thing Back’ are silkily executed; the radio-friendly cut is still packed with hip-hop sensibilities (just listen to the great hook, performed by vocalist Lydia Ceaser), and it’s a testament to Chris Rivers’ authenticity that this is delivered so impressively. Frequent collaborator Whispers kills his feature on the second in the ‘Time Zone’ series, and the melodic delivery and punchline-laced lyricism makes this a dope, short-knit appearance. Rivers recruits a selection of New York legends for the brilliant ‘Fair One’; Lil Fame, Sheek Louch and Styles P destroy the classic, hard-hitting boom bap beat with a series of forceful verses.

Rising New York spitter Oswin Benjamin features on the third and final installment of the ‘Time Zone’ series; his laidback tone is infused with charisma, whilst maintaining heartfelt emotion in his delivery throughout the two-minute track. Oswin also appears on the following cut, ‘No Gives’. Skippy flows fall over a simplistic, trap-infused beat, and the mixture of traditional influence and modern direction is a fitting vibe for the ‘Delorean’ name. The LP still manages to maintain it’s cohesion, and for a debut project, it was definitely an ambitious undertaking. Decauter rapper Jarren Benton kills his feature on the standout ‘Nothing’; the two lyricists weave seamlessly with frantic bars over an intense production.

Chris Rivers exhibits an eclectic ear on ‘Delorean’, and the varied approach makes the ride far more entertaining than your average trip. The LP is populated by one or two many interludes, but the dense lyrical approach, classy production and consistent quality makes this an impressive first outing for the Bronx MC.

By Sam Bennett





Shaz Illyork – The Sleepwalker (The Wide Awake Prequel) (Review)

Reviews, Shaz Illyork

Underground stalwart Shaz Illyork is a fine example of the slow-paced, stylish rap music that has become a characteristic of New York City rappers in recent times. The Queens MC enlists a host of wordsmiths for his latest project ‘The Sleepwalker (The Wide Awake Prequel)’, including Blankface, Chris Rivers and Innocent, and the hardcore, street-smart vibe is hugely entertaining, and remains so over the long run-time of the LP.


The Wu-esque ‘Make Way For The Gods’ is an early highlight with it’s hard-hitting production and gritty lyricism from Shaz and fellow underground spitter Blank Face. The traditional east-coast feel continues with the sublime ‘The First Sunshower’, which also features Queens MC Starvin B who puts in a stellar performance. The complex rhyme schemes and smooth flows are reminiscent of the long-gone golden era, and the dusty drums are subtle, steady and absolutely perfect for the raw vocals from Shaz and Starvin.

Slow-moving and cinematic, ‘Kandahar Dope’ is another gritty, street-smart banger with a tough, East Coast vibe that Shaz and fellow underground lyricist Tools Beastly tackle with prolific verses packed with grimey swagger from start to finish. ‘Lost Metropolis’ is laced with dope, soulful samples, and the nineties, throwback approach is handled with finesse and expertise. ‘Wild Germanz’ is a fantastic posse cut; epic, orchestral production and hard-hitting penmanship from a selection of independent MC’s including Chris Rivers and Guerilla Nems make it a definite highlight, and any hip-hop head will relish the copious amount of bars on display here.

‘The Sleepwalker’ features a number of really short tracks, and it’s a great recurring theme to have. Shaz never struggles to rip the mic, even if it is only for a singular minute, and the groovy ‘360 2017’ is a perfect example of this fast-paced, blink and you miss it spitting. The album closes out with the anthemic ‘Green Garshas’, and the textured sample-work is brilliantly executed and is a resounding finish to an album that is focused purely on quality beats and raw lyricism.

The cries of “hip-hop is dead” can still be heard from people who think that Lil Yachty and Uzi Vert are the only MC’s on offer in 2017, but a quick trawl through the underground hip-hop blogs can quickly lead you to yet another talented rapper who is pushing top-drawer material. Shaz Illyork fits into that category, and ‘The Sleepwalker’ is a concise, cohesive and consistently gritty project that is a surefire winner for fans of traditional, nineties influenced east coast bangers.

By Sam Bennett