Sole & DJ Pain 1 – Death Drive
Over beats by DJ Pain 1, America's most fiercely independent rapper is on fiery form, expressing contempt for contemporary hip-hop's avaricious, money-grabbing shallowness. The Gauntlet's bass-heavy, trap-influenced beats are the perfect foil for his self-reflexive dissection of his own career.
Don't Riot, pushing the trap influences even further, contains some of his most controversy-baiting lyrics in a while, taking shots at police brutality and institutional racism. Baghdad Shake is one of the strongest tracks, pairing TNGHT-style hyper-stretched vocal stabs with deep 808 kicks while Sole exhorts us to "make it rain like white phosphorous."
There are duff moments – the vomitous chorus of War; an over-reliance on under-written chorus hooks and cod-metal guitars, which absolutely ruin the title track (and a few others). But tracks like Coal suggest that Sole has found the perfect beats to complement his flow – bass-laced and minimal, aimed squarely at the club soundsystem. [Bram E. Gieben]