The Bullpen Rotation

by Dan-O

The Bullpen isn’t just a cute term I created. It’s necessary for my mental health. I study hip hop deeply, get my writing or State of The Game prep done BUT I also get pockets of my own time where I still want to listen to rap but I don’t want to have to pull it apart with my critic brain. I want bars and beats to scrunch my face. The starting pitcher is that AOTY monument project you can’t get away from. You do need to get away from it for a while, so you don’t overdose. The bullpen comes in as relief and having the right relief is very key. Here are the projects in my bullpen rotation at the moment:

Ray Gun by Cise Greeny-

For those in love with Phiik & Lungs new album Another Planet 4 this is a great palate cleanser. While Lungs and Phiik embrace bracing sounds and flows, Ray Gun is love letter to New York rap radio. Ray Gun is twenty four songs the longest clocking in at three minutes and eight seconds. Seventeen of the songs are under two minutes so it feels like listening to a the radio race through a Queens set, nodding your head while looking out at the night sky. It’s a long enough album without feeling too long. Ray Gun is also the most New York thing you can imagine. Listen to 4am In Elmhurst (produced by A Haunted House) hearing him flip a Reasonable Doubt line makes sense. This horn sample might be from it! Outside of a few very sharp AASIR features and AL.PHONE its all Greeny stirring his personal pot with punch lines, ruminations, arguments, life advice, and jokes about strangers. No pressure to impress or lay down a single to get you dancing. This is Queens rap and you could play Consequences of The Brutally Honest for Havoc and he’d love it. If you grew up with the sound Queens built cop this.

No Co-sign Just Cocaine 5 by Ty Farris-

What is the win percentage of albums that start with a Big Rube spoken word guest feature? No Co-sign 5 continues that winning streak. On The Cocoa Leaf when Ty Farris says “Disrespect Mama, Gon’ need some napkins!” I smile every time. I dare you not to react to the guitar on that Fonkstarr beat for We Never Backing Down. One of the things to love about this series is that while Ty kicks these beats in the teeth, every feature shines. Mikey Diamond and Pro Dillinger are marvelous on The Most Feared Threat (a real stand out track). J.Arrr shows up and out on Dope Speaks 4 Itself. Ty gets the best out of the multiple producers going from the sweet soulful sounds of The Standouts on Dean Smith to Stu Bangas stripped down knock on Dope Speaks 4 Itself. Wino Willy, Finn, Big Ghost Ltd, Graymatter, you really get the best of the underground gritty sounds on this project all curated under the clever snarl of our punchline captain. He says this is the “final sniff” and I hope he moves on, using this series as a stepping stone for the next era of Ty Farris.

God Is Gracious by Josiah The Gift & SB11-

Josiah The Gift has no interest in jabbing at you lyrically. Every delivered bar is spit out with the intent of a power punch to the body. While this album is dedicated to the birth of Jovani, it’s not a sweet and tender journey. The first bar on the project is “Ayo, nothings been the same. We have now invited a baby into the misery. It’s agonizing…(What Now)” Josiah gets heated at the doctor, describes venomous passion in a way that feels exactly as anxiety ridden as the experience of being a new Father is. The experience tests your relationship with the mother, it tests your relationship to your own life and in the end you have someone that becomes the focal point of every day. It’s an incredible thing but it’s not sweet. It’s not even a day I enjoyed. Josiah The Gift has always been a spitter, making verses and songs count. Consistent with great artwork, production choices, but the run from Track 7 (Prayer) through track 11 (Jovani) is the best of his career. Much loves goes to SB11 who provides tender samples(see Good God) over drums that knock. This is an album about fatherhood that bangs and yells while most whisper and croon.

Battle of The Angelz by Sleep Sinatra & The Architect-

Sleep can keep a conversational tone while burying the street life or dissecting society and it’s a trick that sometimes works against him. He makes it sound too easy for people not paying enough attention. Architect deserves a lot of credit for giving Sleep production with muscle in it, forward movement. Joe Gibbs deserves credit for mastering these five songs so that all the elements pop out as vividly as the colors on the cover. This just came out on 03/03/2023 but has already become a playlist favorite for me. Every song stands out on its own and fits into the totality of Battle of The Angelz.  Sometimes Sleep is in leadership mode, guiding his project through a labyrinth of meaning and other projects (like this one) he’s left the lair and in full rap game Magneto garb changing the worlds magnetic pull for all to see. Listen to Hadron Collider Clap and try not to love it.


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