|By: Teron Anderson
Mass Communications, University of Florida
One look at the cover of Elzhi’s project Lead Poison and a vast variety of interpretations come to mind.
Are the burdens of the Hip-Hop industry and fans’ expectations too much for the Detroit wordsmith?
The imagery depicts Elzhi dodging and ducking for cover as pencils rain from the sky, quite a thought-provoking visual to say the least.
His first project since his classic Elmatic release in 2011, Lead Poison was completed while Elzhi was engaged in an intense bout of depression.
Ironically, according to the man himself, it was the lead from his pencil that released his lyrical magic and helped rid the rapper of the psychological poison from his body.
Writing finally allowed him to remove the cloud that was hovering above and allowed Elzhi to unveil this work of art to the masses.
Opening up Lead Poison is “Medicine Man,” a track that presents Elzhi recalling a conversation that he had with a very wise man helping him along during his battle with depression, all over the sounds of lead being put to the pad in the background.
This track is a great opener for the album, as it really gives the public a peek into Elzhi’s mentality at the time of the project’s creation. It also serves as great words of wisdom for any listeners being faced with the same struggle. On this track, he spits
Don’t fall for the illusions of losing because it’s the ups and downs that create the W
On the next track, “Introverted” Elzhi spits over a gritty yet sentimental guitar solo, delicately strummed to piano keys courtesy of producer Bombay.
This song focuses on Elzhi’s struggle to reach success in the industry. Elzhi makes sure to drop more statements of reason on this track as he rhymes:
You’re bound to fall if you walk before you try crawling/The same as not having things in your name looking fly-balling
“February” is one of the singles Elzhi decided to drop off this project. Elzhi’s rhymes over 14KT’s beautiful piano loop and heavy drums about all of the dark moments the month of February has brought to his door in the past. This track is one of the most introspective cuts on a project that brings much substance to the table–steak and potatoes to provide a hearty meal.
As a stark contrast to its predecessor, Elzhi spits his classic rapid-fire, cypher-esque flow, putting in their place all opposing MCs who dare challenge on the track “EGOcentric.” What is humility? On this track, Elzhi has no clue, and his ignorance sounds quite blissful.
Elzhi tells two tales of youth lost to the streets in a very clever play on the concept of spitting two 16-bar verses. Karriem Riggins provides the unique off-kilter production on this track that features a very catchy vocal sample. This song is just another addition to Elzhi’s classic collection of storytelling tracks in his discography.
Another single release from this project, has Elzhi spitting about feelings of intense isolation due to feeling out-of-place in society and lacking a person to confide in. Once again, the rapper puts his very clever wordplay to use by drawing parallels to himself and a being from another planet. He spits out of this world rhymes like:
After stopping I’m tryna hop in a meteor shower, Get dressed but there won’t be no time to unwind/I’ll be busy either moonwalking or walkin’ on sunshine/While my chain hang over me dips down to the sun/So when it swings, it’s like a solar eclipse/Which makes me start writing bars/Lighting cigars off planet Mars/flicking’ ashes/You would call falling stars/All year round, June to June/I wanna say I sat on Saturn Murked Mercury and mooned the moon
Another single titled “Cosign” plays off of the message of the track “Alienated.” In a very interesting way, Elzhi proudly proclaims that all of the success he’s achieved in his career was accomplished on his lonesome. He did it all without a cosign – a concept that is so pivotal to many artists establishing a fan base and gaining a jumpstart on their career.
Closing up the album is “Keep Dreaming,” which has the Detroit MC providing a bit of inspiration by sharing his own victories and letting the masses know why he’s a cut above the rest. After a five-year hiatus, Elzhi has come back just as strong as before, if not better with this effort. It is an even more outstanding given the psychological circumstances that this work of art was created under.
Elzhi’s album is sure to satisfy the masses and has the potential to go down in the books as a classic for the underground legend.
Lead Poison hit stores March 25 and can be ordered here.
Standout Tracks: “‘February”, “EGOcentric”, “Two 16s”, “Alienated”
Overall Rating: 8/10: