This album was released on July 5th this year. Cloud Envy is an artist from my hometown of Durham, North Carolina who I knew next to nothing about before checking out this project. Right before I listened to it, I found out what his government name is, and became a little confused. I might be trippin’, but I actually think I might have gone to the same elementary school as him. I don’t know. I can’t really remember. I found his facebook page and saw that he’s friends with a handful of people that I went to elementary school with, including myself. Honestly, I had to have been familiar with him at some point because I stopped using that facebook account when I was in like middle school. I don’t even think I was listening to Hip Hop at that point. So yeah, unless something super strange is going on, I must have at least been acquainted with him when I was really young. He even looks kinda familiar to me. I really can’t remember though. I think he’s probably a year or two older than me because I remember being friends with almost everyone in my grade by the time I graduated. So yeah, that was interesting. Anyway, whenever I listen to indie artists’ projects like this, my biggest fear is always that I’ll have to heavily criticize their work. I know that I’m doing them a favor by giving feedback and telling them how they can improve, but it’s still not fun having to tell an up & comer that their shit isn’t good. Thankfully, this isn’t one of those times because I really enjoyed this album. Whenever I do these tardy reviews, I usually talk about what I liked before getting into my criticisms. There was only one actual song that I didn’t really care for on this album though, so I’m just gonna talk about the whole thing in the proper order of the tracklist. Anyway, the piano contribution from Yoni Fogelman at the beginning of the intro is really nice. It transitions into a skit, which introduces the frankly superfluous narrative that permeates the album. The voice acting is fine, and I guess the writing isn’t terrible. I’m just not really sure who the other character that Cloud Envy speaks to is supposed to be or represent. I’m assuming it’s his conscience, but I might be wrong about that. The concept didn’t really grip me. I’m not even sure what exactly happened in the story. All that I know is that it’s “time to awaken the groovy cat.” The following track, Rise n’ Shine, is the one song that I don’t really care for. I don’t think it’s a bad song at all. I just don’t see myself returning to it personally. The production from Kasino Kam is pretty solid, and I think the sung hook is actually kinda catchy. It’s actually my least favorite beat on the album, which is probably why it ended up being my least favorite song. Envy’s flow on the two verses is really what stands out most about them. It’s certainly not bad lyrically; it just didn’t really impress me that much. The bars on the second verse were a little vague and generic to me. It’s a cool song overall. I just don’t see myself coming back to it in the future. It’s followed by Slick Talk, which is much better to me. The production is far more interesting, and the content is more appealing to me too. The lyrics still aren’t super impressive or anything, but I like his aggressive attitude a lot.
A king of all kings, and a master of everything
I peeped your girl and I snapped off her wedding ring
Told her that I can just lead her to better things
The hook is pretty catchy too. His flow was already nice on the first verse, but he steps it up for the second verse with a double-time cadence. This is definitely the climax of the track, and it’s great. This shit is dope. It’s a big step up from the preceding track in my opinion. The following song, Jettin’, isn’t quite as great in my opinion, but I still fuck with it. I think it has the best instrumental up to this point on the album. That Kasino Kam dude is pretty dope. The first verse is tight. The “if real G’s move in silence, then I guess I’m a sovereign” line was cool. Most of the lyrics didn’t really stand out to me much though. The line about being “iller than the average patient” is a little cliché. I think the second verse is definitely better. The melodic hook is cool too. It’s a good song. Again, I enjoyed the previous track more personally, but I definitely fuck with this one too. It’s followed by the Big Flow Tip Toe Freestyle, which is the first major standout track for me. That shit is fire. The production is dope as hell, and the hook is great too. The song features an artist named Belis, whose voice really caught me off guard at first. I was not expecting her to sound like that for some reason. At first I thought she was a child, but she’s obviously just a woman with a really soft voice. It provides a nice contrast to Cloud Envy’s voice, which is really deep and grizzly. The first verse from Cloud Envy on this track is fantastic. The line about taking someone’s brain, dousing it in gasoline, and lighting it on fire was actually insane. His flow is great too. I also enjoyed the second verse from Belis. Her voice is ridiculously soft and feathery, but not in a bad way. I like it. Her somewhat melodic delivery along with her unique voice makes for a really entrancing verse. I feel like this is the same feeling people who like Playboi Carti get when they listen to his music. I think it’s terrible, but his fans are always talking about how his songs have this “hypnotizing” atmosphere. That’s how I feel about Belis’ verse. It’s really mesmerizing, even if the actual lyrics aren’t that great. It’s definitely the best song up to this point on the album for me. It’s dope af. The following track is an interlude called The Kid with Nyctophilia. For those of you who maybe don’t know, nyctophilia is basically an affinity for nighttime and darkness. As far as the skits go, this is probably my favorite one personally. I just think the voice acting sounds surprisingly natural, especially when Cloud Envy is getting nostalgic about his childhood. It actually sounds like a somewhat believable conversation. Anyway, the next track is called Rush Hour, and I think it’s just as good, if not better than the Belis collab. I’m not familiar with that Aushoj Rekcut guy, but I think he did a great job with that first verse. His flow is catchy as hell, and I love his hook too. The little Spoken Word break from Cloud Envy between the hook and his verse was pretty cool, and he killed it. One other thing that stands out about this song is the fact that it’s the only track with profanity. I don’t think Cloud Envy says any cuss words on this whole album, so it’s more noticeable when Aushoj Rekcut does it. Oh wait a minute. I just realized his name is Joshua Tucker backwards. Huh. I guess they’re brothers. That’s cool. They’re both good rappers. Maybe they’re not related at all, and they just have the same last name coincidentally. Anyway, I obviously don’t give a fuck about profanity, but I always think it’s smart of rappers to avoid using it. This is mainly because, as hard as it may be to believe for some of us, certain audiences are just really averse to that kind of language. Nobody’s gonna be angry at someone for not cursing, but some people—mainly boomers—think saying “fuck” is as bad as murder. You’re also more likely to get placed on certain playlists if your music is family friendly. It’s something to consider if you’re an up & coming indie artist. Anyway, the song is fire. It’s definitely another one of my favorites. The album is actually skewed upward in terms of quality. I think each song is better than the preceding one. I guess the skits are the exception to that rule. They’re not bad, but I can’t really say that I enjoy them. None of them really seem to have any connection to the music itself. With that said, the Food Skit segues into the following instrumental passage pretty nicely. It’s called Close Your Eyes, What Do You See?, and it’s just a really nice beat from someone whose government name is James Jacobs. I’m not sure if that’s what he goes by or if he has a specific stage name. He did a fantastic job here though. I think it’s actually my favorite instrumental on the whole album. It’s dope af. I’m still not really sure how it connects to the overall narrative of the project, but I don’t give a fuck because it’s fire. The following track, Boom Bap Cat (Waitin’), is my favorite song on the album. As the title implies, the song has a much more traditional instrumental style than any of the others. The actual wordplay and lyricism from Cloud Envy seems a lot stronger on this track to me too. The synths that eventually come in were a nice surprise, and the record scratches were a really great touch as well. Cloud Envy actually spazzed on this track to be honest. The way the beat cuts out for like 10 to 20 seconds and then pops back in was really dope. I was a little worried at first when the first verse faded out because I thought another skit was gonna come in, but thankfully the beat just switches up and he starts rapping again. He’s just killing it the whole time. There’s no hook or anything. He’s just ripping the beat for damn near five minutes. It’s awesome. It’s a really great finale to the record. There’s one more track on the album, which is just a super short outro in which Ryan Outlaw says some random shit about Cloud Envy. It’s not really something I’d listen to again in the future, but it’s cool. 🙂