Skyzoo x The Other Guys, The Mind of a Saint: A Soliloquy: As a homage inspired by the FX series Snowfall and the character Franklin Saint, The Mind of a Saint kinda works. Skyzoo has a fussy style that leads him to crowd his beats with stanzas. “The revolution wasn’t televised, but it was spoken word/And I heard every part of it,” he raps on “Panthers & Powder,” one of the album’s stronger tracks. He’s a charismatic voice, even if one wishes he found ways to let the music breathe a bit more. The Other Guys, a D.C. production duo best known for their work with Lessondary crew like Von Pea and Rob Cave, pairs Skyzoo with the brightest melancholia this side of Apollo Brown. They set the mood at 3 p.m. on Saturday, but the subject matter seems to require more ominous tones. Lyrically, The Mind of a Saint stays in grind mode, save for the closing tracks, when Skyzoo aka Saint tries to reckon with the damage his drug dealing has caused. It closes with an ill-timed suite of 80s “Just Say No” arcana. One can’t help but compare The Mind of a Saint to American Gangster, a 2007 album where Jay-Z conjured heartlessness with ease. First Generation Rich/HIPNOTT.
DJ Muggs x Madlib x Meyhem Lauren, Champagne for Breakfast
Champagne for Breakfast highlights the strengths and weaknesses of Meyhem Lauren, who’s best known for riding shotgun on Action Bronson’s various multimedia adventures. He’s got a decent po-faced style and a capacity to crack a few fly bars but lacks the conceptual savvy to elevate his street dreams into something more transcendent than a thug-rap excursion. Over the past several years, Muggs has made himself into the Gothic composer of the “drumless” era — he did excellent work on Westside Gunn’s Flygod Is an Awesome God — and his highlights include “OD Wilson” and “Evolution,” the latter on which Meyhem raps, “I specialize in aeronautics, got a fly team.” Meanwhile, Madlib interjects vocal loops on Muggs’ beats, and his “Triple M Airlines” is a nice, crackly instrumental. The beats attributed to Madlib alone seem aimless in comparison to Muggs, but he eventually achieves synergy with Meyhem on “Wild Salmon,” a light disco-boogie closer. Rap cameos include Action Bronson and Meyhem’s brother, Hologram. Muggs released Champagne for Breakfast on his Soul Assassin Records label.