Album Review | Griff/Scorcese – Midnight Express

This album was released on September 24th this year. Griff/Scorcese is a duo comprised of producer Jason Griff & MC Scorcese. I’m not that familiar with Jason Griff, but I have heard some beats that he’s made for Zilla Rocca and other members of the Wrecking Crew. I first became familiar with Scorcese when I checked out his album with Panels as the East Hampton Polo Boys. That’s a dope album by the way, so check that shit out if you haven’t yet. Anyway, I’d heard two singles from this album ahead of its release, so I was pretty certain I was gonna dig this project. The track listing was also pretty exciting to me since damn near every track has a really intriguing feature. Anyway, this probably goes without saying, but just to be clear, this entire project is produced by Jason Griff.

There aren’t any tracks that I don’t like on this record, so I’ll write about the whole thing in the proper order of the track listing. It begins with BXRXNG GXN RXPS. I really love how reserved and calm Scorcese’s delivery on the opening verse is here. The production from Jason Griff is fantastic too. The whole song has this really eerie, kind of tense atmosphere, and it’s awesome. The first verse from Scorcese is really dope too.

Weapons are drawn, I'm Jim Lee with the brush, hush
Ain't shit to discuss, but the money we lust, what?
Keep it legal 'cause we need the bucks
Nigga, what up? Welcome to the jungle

That Hush reference in the very first line was tight. There’s virtually no percussion on this song at all until his verse ends. Once it finally comes in, it literally only lasts for like 2 seconds. Griff kinda teased me with that beat drop, for lack of a better term. The percussion doesn’t really come in until the very end of the song, once all the rapping has already finished. I think I probably would’ve loved the song even more if the percussion came in for the second verse, but the song is still fire as it is. Speaking of the second verse, it’s performed by Sleep Sinatra, who did a great job here.

We packed a fruit punch
Rappers wanna test, and now they crew's lunch
Only 'round niggas that raise they hood like Ku Klux
I'm not inclusive, I been movin' how the truth does
Knowin' if it's only business you remove love
That's straight facts
I paint passion through insane raps
Why these biters been lookin' timid? Where the fangs at

He killed this shit. Now that I think about it, I think Sleep Sinatra’s style works really well without the percussion. Maybe Scorcese could’ve come in for another verse with the drums, but that’s just a nitpick. I love the beat, and both of the MCs here did a great job. The song is dope as hell to me. Track 2 is called Bobby Seale, and it surprisingly ended up being one of my favorites on the album. The only reason it was a surprise to me was because I’d never heard of the featured artist, Alex Ludovico. However, that dude really impressed me. I love the production here from Jason Griff too. It sounds like a good day in the form of music. Whenever it plays I just imagine myself driving a convertible on a nice, sunny day. Anyway, I think Alex Ludovico has a really great voice for rapping. It almost sounds a little Danny Brownish, but just less difficult to take seriously. Don’t get me wrong; I have no issue with Danny Brown’s voice. I’d be lying to myself if I couldn’t admit that it’s an acquired taste though. I think Alex’s voice is definitely way more accessible. I guess his voice also kinda reminds me of a less goofy ZelooperZ, or maybe a 10 Day era Chance the Rapper. Anyway, I really like how he opened up with that heads vs. tails scheme.

Which side of the coin do you fall on?
You call yourself headstrong, tuck your tail when the heats on

I’m gonna have to check this dude’s work out because he really stood out here. The production from Jason Griff on this song has a really nice, feel-good atmosphere to it. Again, it kinda reminds me of early Chance the Rapper, as well as College Dropout or Late Registration era Kanye West. Scorcese’s flow on the second verse is really nice too.

It's the good, bad, the hungry, the hunger games
The hunt or be hunted, mayne
The hunger pangs buggin' me
Mind sharper than cutlery
Before I flip which side of the coin I see

The line about how a shit ton of rappers have just been kinda biting Griselda’s style lately was tight. I think the song is dope as hell. It’s followed by another highlight entitled Detlef, which I covered in one of my “Best Singles of the Week” posts earlier this year.

If I’m not mistaken, this is the first single from Griff/Scorcese’s upcoming album, Midnight Express, which is scheduled for release on September 24th. I wasn’t too familiar with Jason Griff before hearing this track—although he apparently contributed to Zilla Rocca’s solo album from last year—but I am a fan of Scorcese. He recently released an album with a producer named Panels as a duo called the East Hampton Polo Boys. That album is called Summer Catalogue, and I’ll have a review for that up hopefully sooner rather than later. Anyway, I was pretty excited when I saw this track because I’ve become a fan of Eddie Kaine over the course of this year. I really loved his feature on Ty Farris’ amazing No Cosign Just Cocaine 3 album. After hearing that, I went back and listened to his Aruku album from last year, and I recently checked out his collaborative album with The Standouts, Nezzie’s Star. Both of those projects were dope, so I was confident that he’d come through with a dope performance on this track, and I wasn’t let down. As soon as the track started, I was hooked by Jason Griff’s dirty production. The sample he flipped here is fire too. The first verse is handled by Scorcese who has some really nice lines in there. I liked the one about kids dying. That was funny. The second verse from Eddie Kaine was really dope, but I think Scorcese had the best performance when he came back in for that third verse. That line about people being bent outta shape like cursive was hard. The metaphor about thirstiness was kinda gross, but also pretty slick at the same time. Overall, I think it’s a really dope song, and a great first single. I’m looking forward to the full project. Give this track a listen and let me know what you think.

The next track is another single called Marvel Vs. DC.

This might be my favorite song on the album. I think this shit is fucking awesome. The hard hitting production from Jason Griff is stellar, and the cuts from DJ MoNiklz were just the icing on the cake. The way Zilla Rocca and Scorcese were going back and forth here was mesmerizing too. I’ve never thought that Zilla Rocca was wack or anything, but I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting him to kill this track the way he did. He slaughtered this shit though. As the title indicates, they were referencing a lot of Marvel & DC franchises. I’m personally not too familiar with either of the companies, so I didn’t get everything they were talking about, but I still found it pretty interesting.

Alan Moore with the Rorschach
Matter fact, might eat more red tomato; death on the forecast

I just feel like the chemistry these two have on this song makes for a really fun track. The entire album sounds like it was really fun to make, but this is where it’s most evident. They killed this shit. It’s dope af. The following song is another single that I previously wrote about called Ode to Camp Lo.

This track actually dropped last week, but I didn’t end up hearing it until this week, which is why I’m covering it late. Anyway, I think this shit is fucking awesome. This might actually be my favorite song that I’ve ever heard from Scorcese. First of all, this beat is amazing. I love how fucking weird it is. The way Scorcese was flowing over it was really nice too.

We belong to Switzerland skiing slopes, sniper zero scopes
Flee the coast, handwritten notes, kids seein' ghosts
The Gucci suede, thirty shooters movin' with a Boosie fade
Maneuver K's like Super Dave, Palm Springs we drink for days
We came for Lay's, Doritos, extra green in our mojitos
We heroes for hire with a fist like iron
The poor we treat like China, the fools we treat like virus
Our revival cause our rivals to despise us

He killed this shit. The record scratches and Camp Lo samples on the hook are of course much appreciated. Fun fact: Luchini is one of the first Hip Hop songs I ever heard. As anyone could’ve guessed, Alaska absolutely murdered this track.

Base in your face, gotta taste for that Ricki Lake
Average white girls, now your mouth's numb from lickin' flakes
Red sickle takes, free the tea leaves, T.D. Jakes
Me, I'm sellin' CDs and blend tapes for Ben Franks

I think I misquoted the third line in that excerpt, but it is what it is. I tried my best. Fuck it. Anyway, the way they were trading quatrains for that final verse was awesome. Again, this is one of my favorite songs Scorcese has ever done. I think this shit is dope af.

Track 6 is called Survivor Series ’92. This one begins with a wrastling commentator exclaiming that someone is “out like a light!,” which immediately made me think of Drake’s feature on Sicko Mode.

This isn’t really a highlight for me on this album, but I do like it to some extent. I just think the production here is relatively conventional sounding. It doesn’t stand out that much to me, especially amongst the other beats on the record. Scorcese’s rapping here is thankfully really great though.

Is Satan real or am I trippin' like the Simpsons?
We victims of the system or are we just its symptoms?

I of course appreciated the diss to Kamala Harris. The second verse from Curly Castro was really nice too. The rapping is the main aspect of the song that makes it worth returning to for me. There’s not really much else to suck me in. The production is fine, but nothing special. There isn’t really a hook. The verses are just divided by audio of wrastling commentators, which I honestly found kind of irritating. The song is still entertaining to me though. I think it’s pretty good. The penultimate track is entitled Death of Smokey Mountain. This is another highlight for me. When I originally heard this album, I don’t think I’d ever heard of Aasir, but I was really happy with his appearance here. Since hearing this track, I’ve also heard some stuff he’s done with Iceberg Theory, and the dude is really dope. Anyway, I think the melodic beat on this track is really nice. It sounds slightly festive to me, so that’s cool. That first verse from Scorcese is dope.

You wrestle with the fact you worthless
Our paragraphs is furnace, scar your epidermis
Searing words, they like a sermon
Holy water on you heathens
Best believe it, stumble drunk inside arenas

I think Aasir’s super lowkey delivery sounded great over this beat. As soon as he started rapping I immediately thought of Goya Gumbani. I feel like their styles are super similar. Aasir’s flow is definitely more intricate though. He killed this shit. I think he’s one of the best features on the whole album to be honest. The song is dope as hell. The final song on the album is called RXCKXT LVXNCHXR, and it’s a contender for my favorite track on the record. It’s the only song without a feature, but that’s not necessarily why I love it so much. I just think everything here is super well-executed. The ominous production is phenomenal, and I love how reserved, yet tense Scorcese’s delivery over it is. I actually think this song has his best performance on the whole record. In fact, this might actually be my favorite verse that I’ve ever heard from him. He was rhyming his ass off here. The song is dope af.

This album is really goddamn great. There’s not a single track that I dislike here. As much as I enjoyed Summer Catalogue, this one impressed me a lot more than I thought it would. The production from Jason Griff is really dope, and every single collaboration here is pretty exciting. The collaborative spirit of this album made it really fun. Like I mentioned in the body of this review, it sounds like they had a blast making this record. Even the couple MCs who I’d never previously listened to ended up really impressing me. I don’t have a consistent gripe with the album. I hope these guys do another album together at some point because this was a very fun project. Don’t sleep on it. It’s dope as hell.

Least Favorite Song: Survivor Series ’92


Grade: A-

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