[Review] 3 The Hard Way – Neako, Varsity Squad, Emilio Rojas
Rife with crisp, pulsating production and confident cadence, “LVLZebra” is a solid outing from Neako. For those looking for socially conscious or intensely introspective lyricism, this mixtape isn’t necessarily about that. However, if you’re looking for chill, atmospheric, and just plain good hip-hop, Neako certainly delivers it with “LVLZebra”. “Left, Down, Right, Up” is one track in particular with brilliant production and lyrics that stand out in vivid fashion. The songwriting is similarly solid on this track, but Neako’s ear for beats is excellent, considering every track features organic and vibrant production. Neako’s ability to adapt to different flows is also apparent and despite hearing some recycled concepts, the tracks are varied enough to keep it interesting.
Varsity Squad- New School Boom Bap
An ode to the iconic 90’s “boom-bap” sound, “New School Boom Bap” is a refreshing journey back to the days of gritty, raw lyricism and the golden-age of hip-hop. The braggadocio and swagger Varsity Squad brings on every track embodies the same soul and essence that existed in much of 90’s hip-hop. Tracks like “Round and Round” and “Welcome to School” are examples of possessing an old soul but a new vibe. The same chill-inducing samples and introspective lyrics of golden-age hip-hop but with a new-school feel are certainly a breath of fresh air. The track “Aliens” is a great example of the aforementioned dynamic–infusing electronic motifs with that same old school signature of scratching and samples. The chemistry between Jon Quest and Beedie also brings back memories of Group Home, a similar duo that infused gritty lyricism with impeccable, soulful production. Overall, whether you’re an old head or a relative new-comer to the golden-age, “New School Boom Bap” will certainly please the old and new fan alike.
Emilio Rojas-Breaking Point
Emilio Rojas certainly possesses a very steady, rapid-fire flow and hunger that makes an excellent emcee. Tracks like “SPIC” and “Middle Finger” are brilliant tracks, rife with vivid lyricism and storytelling, and aside for a few filler tracks, “Breaking Point” is definitely a decent showing. Although some of the tracks are bit cliché—“P@ssy and Cologne” for example—and nothing particularly groundbreaking, Rojas makes up for it with his and staccato-like syncopation and multi-syllabic rhyme schemes, especially on “Middle Finger” and “I Thought You Knew”. Conceptually, the project as a whole seems a bit inconsistent, but the stronger tracks certainly make up for it. Definitely possessing the confidence and fearlessness of a hardcore emcee, but also being versatile enough to do more laid-back tracks like “Blame Me”, Rojas effectively demonstrates his versatility as an artist on “Breaking Point.”