Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Conway the Machine / Wun Two: Palermo Album Evaluation

It’s tempting, within the aftermath of Westside Gunn’s purported swan tune And Then You Pray for Me, to think about Griselda’s dissolution. Gunn is now, by his personal account, extra keen on style and moguldom than recording or performing—the Artwork Basel crowd, it occurs, has little use for Lure-A-Holics tributes. His half-brother Conway the Machine, in the meantime, remains to be rapping just like the lease’s due. The group’s most achieved and pragmatic technician, Conway offsets smooth major-label outings with austere works for rent, his sprawling solo catalog eschewing a neat trajectory. He cuts hard-boiled tapes with neighbors, unsung DJs, and streetwear manufacturers, a grasp sculptor insisting upon the bluntest of instruments.

Conway sticks largely to style conventions on Palermo, though producer Wun Two makes a valiant effort to interrupt the mould. A German beatmaker finest identified for his lo-fi instrumental initiatives, Wun Two conjures an assured, hypnotic temper harking back to DJ Muggs. The place previous collaborators Huge Ghost Restricted and the Alchemist outfitted Conway with ornate samples, Wun Two foregrounds distinctive percussion, washing his drum patterns with remoted chords and hazy stereo results. On “Carduni,” ambient cymbals approximate uncanny static; a fragile melody sneaks in across the midway level of “Thoughts Methods,” propelling the observe ahead whereas sustaining its creeping stress.

A sequence of interludes ornaments the atmosphere with a transatlantic drug trafficking theme, however Wun Two’s cues are misplaced in translation. Conway stays near house, his tales of ascendance—I used to do X, now I do Y—typically confined to particular person couplets. The anecdotes vary from amusing (“Look, we was baggin’ all day to serve within the spot/We had shit jumpin’ like Shawn Kemp’s vertical hops”) to compulsory (“Used to bag ounces up in twenties, I might scrape the plate/Chop till the razor break, look, they are saying he nice”), his rhyme patterns inflexible and monosyllabic. The efficiency is buoyed by Conway’s instincts, that are, as ever, distinctive. He stretches his limbs in whitespace, lounging within the drawn-out refrain of “Carduni,” extending the outros of “Thoughts Methods” and “Bianca” into ad-libbed monologues.

There’s valuable little rapping on Palermo—most tracks function a single verse with padding on both facet—and Wun Two relishes the shortage of construction, his unhurried tempos blooming into roomy instrumental breaks. In lieu of quotables, he facilities the performers’ expressive quirks: Conway’s Heath Ledger-as-Joker cackle does as a lot lifting because the sinewy rhymes. Fellow Buffalo native Goosebytheway is a useful supporting participant, warbling raspy hooks like a grizzled 50 Cent. Nonetheless, the tasting-course format imposes a low ceiling. The diffuse jazz-club instrumentals on “Chilly Dish” are among the many album’s most evocative, but Conway appears to lose curiosity halfway by means of a sparse 16 bars. Goose bookends the verse with a unfastened refrain, nevertheless it performs like a reference observe, extra of a teaser than a tune.

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