Alternative | Hip-Hop | Rap
When it comes to that kind of Hip-Hop that many describe as “abstract”, there are few artists that are quite as prolific in today’s musical catalogue as ELUCID. While I first discovered the New York rap artist under the collaborative group of Nostrum Grocers, alongside Milo (a.k.a R.A.P Ferreira, a.k.a Scallops Hotel), I began to be truly invested in ELUCID’s rap style once I discovered his primary collaboration; that being the one with billy woods titled Armand Hammer.
I admittedly discovered Armand Hammer pretty late on, upon the release of 2021’s Haram, and album which also saw the involvement of the phenomenal producer known as The Alchemist.
While 2021 saw both ELUCID and billy woods make moves by working together under the Armand Hammer moniker, the year of 2022 now sees the two working on solo projects. Earlier this year, we saw the release of Aethiopes by billy woods (you can read my review of that album here). But today, I will be focusing on ELUCID follow suit with his own solo album; the second solo studio album in his discography (that is if one discounts all the mixtapes and collaborative albums).
As what comes to be expected with abstract rap albums, there typically seems to be this trend where I don’t discover anything in the way of teasers up until the very release of the full album. That remains the case with I Told Bessie.
Stylistically, this album is very much what one would expect from an artist such as ELUCID. In a subgenre of hip-hop where there’s a need to be even more unique, in order to fully stand out from the crowd of other experimental rap albums, I Told Bessie, while carrying some great tracks, doesn’t have quite as much as Aethiopes for instance, in regards to being incredibly ear-catching.
While ELUCID never struggles to deliver that signature charisma of his on this album, I Told Bessie (for the most part) does fade into the background slightly. However, there is no denying that the quality of its production and mixing is top notch. Given that the executive producer for I Told Bessie was billy woods himself, this album (while a solo effort at heart), does sprinkle in little flavours of the awesome collaboration between these two artists.
On top of this, billy woods makes quite a few feature appearances on this project too (much like how ELUCID did on Aethiopes). He is not the only featured artist on here, however; this album also sees the likes of Quelle Chris and Pink Siifu make featured appearances too.
The album’s title points to Bessie Hall; ELUCID’s grandmother. And given all of the support that she had showered the artist with while his musical career was still in bloom, this album essentially acts as a love letter to that person he loved very deeply. Despite this, however, it took a visit to Genius to find out about this narrative focus, as it wasn’t crystal clear from the album itself.
Despite all my slander in this review, however, I Told Bessie is still an incredibly solid listen. However, my feelings towards it being a little lacklustre only come to show the standard set by so many incredible abstract rap artist, including ELUCID himself.
Favourite Tracks: Spellling | Smile Lines | Impasse
Least Favourite Track: Bunny Chow