ALBUM REVIEW: Conway The Machine, If It Bleeds It Can Be Killed
(Editor's Note: After some re-listening and careful consideration, this record doesn't qualify for a Standout Album. Although it is good and is one of the better rap projects of 2021, it's impact has lessened since it was released.)
If It Bleeds It Can be Killed is a testament to Conway and Griselda as a collective’s ability to create powerful, vivid, narrative driven hip-hop. By no means are Conway and Griselda the only rappers to deepen their music with narrative. Throughout the history of music artists have always imbued stories into their songs. Rarely though, are artists so committed to these ideas that they stick by them forever.
Each song on this album feels perfectly chosen to balance this album out. Whether it’s the mafioso-esque "J Batters", or the almost spiritual Highly Praised, each song is so well crafted that it instantly establishes its own vibe and feeling.
If It Bleeds... is Conway’s second collaboration with Big Ghost, who creates a balanced pallet equal parts gangster rap, Wall Street power plays, coke fiend and Sicario. Conway has never sounded more at home than over these beats, and reminds us on tracks like the malevolent sounding Red Beams, and the heavenly, Santana inspire Forever Ago, just how great he sounds over guitars.
In terms of Standout Tracks there’s more than a few but have narrowed it down to the following. “Commencement” is a fire intro, starring Lukey Cage. The trap makes you feel like a mob boss, Cage’s lisp is a great creative choose and a cool fit for this track. The beat is so simple, a single guitar note.
“J Batters” is an amazing track that I will be listening to for a long time to come. The beat is so elegant, like some shit straight out of a Scorsese movie. Instant classic. “Highly Praised” is a modern negro-spiritual. Sometimes music is just about pain and that’s okay.
“Forever Ago” is my favorite track off of this record. It brings me back to when I was learning guitar and listening to classic rock. I think Conway has a similar love of the genre, and the acid laced, Santana inspired licks will lift you into the stratosphere. While not an official album, If It Bleeds is certainly a Conway classic and essential listening for any Griselda fans.