Chain Letters

Artist: SupastitionTitle: Chain LettersRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Jamin Warren

Supastition is a self-proclaimed arrogant beast. “F*ck Supa,” he sneers indignantly on Jake One’s soul-strutting “Hate My Face.” The man is definitely posturing to be the new king of North Carolina. With Little Brother’s less-than-stellar record sales from their sophomore release and a lack of challengers from the rest of the Justus League camp, Supa has every reason to puff his chest. He took one of the coveted spots at OkayPlayer’s hidden talent contest last year with his Nicolay collab “The Williams” and his second full-length, Chain Letters, may be the best non-Petey Pablo record from the Tar Heel State this year.

Of course, Chain Letters is far from perfect. Unable to cull any excess material, Supa bloated the album with 17 tracks. At least he passed on the skits. The production plays repetitive at times as Wax Reform members M-Phazes and Illmind bleed one selection into another. The ghost of Pete Rock hovers over every track with the non-committal, muted snares and those samey bring-it-back soul samples. Nicolay, however, manages to break some new ground, furthering his hyper-glossed renditions on tracks like “Rise.”

But Supastition easily overshadows any shortcomings on the production side with whipsmart couplets. “I’m not a midwife, but I’m known for delivery,” he muses on “Chain Letters.” On “Soul Control,” Supa fires, “I’m on some body-building shit/Trying to raise the bar.” Nasty with the homonyms, Supa captures all the cleverness that made The Listening so damn approachable. Though cuts like “Special Treatment” and “A Baby Story” visit the overworn preachiness that plagues underground Hip-Hop, Supa cleverly avoids sermonizing with earnestness and tact.

With Chain Letters, Supa improves on The Deadline EP and guns for the crown of his home state’s fertile Hip-Hop culture. As the album title suggests, he’s passing along his verses for the world to read.

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