It’s no secret that 2020 has been a strange and unpredictable year. We’ve been through a lot, dealing with both new obstacles and long festering problems. Things have come to a head and we’ve all had some time alone with our thoughts. Some of us are questioning and challenging norms. Others are trying to cling to what’s come before. Everyone is re-evaluating their lives in one way or another. There’s a lot of thoughts rattling around in all of our heads, trying to make sense of it all. This examination of self is a fitting state of mind when first listing to Nepotism, the new album from Chokeules, released by Hand’Solo Records.
Nepotism is the 3rd solo album from Chokeules and the first since 2014’s Stay Up. While the previous album was a melodic adventure that celebrated classic hip hop, this one is a darker introspection touching on a lot of the troubles and concerns of our modern world. Chokeules puts a personal spin on real world problems while battling to remain positive and fight the good fight. Frustration, restlessness and hope clash in almost all of the tracks, creating a dichotomy that is intriguing to the mind and inviting to the ears. Nepotism sports a thicker skin that is a product of the time. A lot has changed since Stay Up came out. And a lot has stayed the same, for better or for worse. In Eat the Rich, a new song off the album, there’s a line that sums it up:
I told ‘em Stay Up / They answered Hold On Say What / The time has come for one percent to finally take a pay cut! / I told ‘em straight up / these normals need to wake up / ‘cause if it’s fight or flight I leave the ladder to Jacob!Chokeules – Eat the Rich
The internal struggle of keeping ahead of the oppressions and fears of daily life can be a battle and it’s the driving force behind most of the tracks on Nepotism.
That’s not to say that Nepotism isn’t a fun album with exciting tracks. It totally is. The opening track, Gold Metal Jacket, sets the tone for a series of great tracks with beats and samples that are guaranteed to stay with you long after you listen. It’s not all doom and gloom. Chokeules can’t help but infuse some optimism into his work. Tracks like Head High and Howl are examples of this. But the balance is there with the counterpoint of Penny Royalties and Fatal Death Blow. The album dances on both sides of the line and the result is a truly interesting listening experience.
The pop culture references are a bit more obscure this time around but just as satisfying for those that know them. Triple Double, the seventh track on the album, is the best example of this. Nepotism is produced by LRYBRDBTZ, aka Chokeules’ cousin, Larry Bird. The song references his cousin Larry as well as Balki Bartokomous, the main characters of the late 80s/early 90s ABC sitcom Perfect Strangers. The final moments of Switchblade Comb gives us a tribute to the theme of the classic Mighty Hercules animated series. I guess my age is showing that I got both references immediately.
Overall, Nepotism is the album we both need and deserve in these trying times. The production is first rate as always and the content is thought provoking as ever. Chokeules presents questions and fears that we’re all feeling right now. He also brings some light and fun to the situation when he can. The result is a well balanced album with its passion worn on its sleeve. If you’re a fan of Choke’s work, either his solo stuff or his work with Swamp Thing, Toolshed or with the Backburner Crew, there’s something here for you.
Nepotism is now available from Hand’Solo Records. Go HERE to purchase your copy of the album today!
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!