Rating: 8 / 10
Of all of the projects to drop this year (as of now), Iron Solomon could possibly have the most slept on when Monster is finally released. The battle rapper is attempting to put those skills to good use in order to make a more concise, more flowing LP that harkens to every aspect of classic Hip-Hop. With Monster, he’s hoping to prove that he doesn’t fall in the category of most battle rappers; although he retains the great lyricism, he manages to prove that he isn’t like typical battle rappers that know nothing about using that skill to create a strong album.
With the lead single “Almost There” being the first thing you hear when pressing play on his debut LP, Solomon sets the tone, and (un)intentionally sets the bar high for the rest of the album. With this soulful introduction, he essentially addresses the trials he’s gone through to get to this point accompanied by a soulful sounding choir that assists him at the end.
The good music continues throughout the project, as the soundscape morphs and his rap style adjusts to fit whichever song he’s tasked to rhyme on. From the triumphant sounds of “King” to the classic old-school sound of “Shotgun”, it all remains fresh throughout. Solomon’s at his best when he’s being aggressive, and in songs like “Get On My Level” and “Nothing To Lose” he brings a level of energy that few can match without losing their effectiveness.
The best part about Monster (besides the lyricism) is the care that’s been taken with each song. Several of the tracks flip production-wise towards their end (“15 Minutes”) or completely mellows out (“The Empire”) to make the song sound much more dynamic. That’s not saying the songs were average to begin with, but those added elements shoot the replay value through the roof for most songs present.
As great as the album is, there are still some issues as well. The album carries on for way too long due to the addition of bonus tracks at the end, and a couple of them had also been featured on his “RedRum Radio” mixtape released with DJBooth.com. Even with that factored in (alongside the awkwardly placed children ad-libs in “Classic Girl”), it’s hard to discredit how well-assembled this album is. Some time ago, I spotted Iron Solomon’s Kickstarter page that was spawned for the purpose of giving him the tools needed in order to make his debut worthwhile. One of the telling lines from that page was a simple promise:
“I promise to bring you the music and visuals you all deserve.”
Consider Iron Solomon’s promise upheld, as Monster is well-worth copping to support. Here’s to hoping that the visuals live up to the same standard. Be sure to keep an eye for it when it’s released March 27.