Album Review | Conway the Machine – From King to a God

Note: This review was written on December 11th of 2020.

This album was released on September 11th this year. Conway the Machine is my favorite gangsta rapper at the moment, so I’m expecting this to be one of my favorite albums of the year. He’d already released a ton of great music this year, including an EP with The Alchemist, which I thought was amazing, as well as a pretty great collaborative EP with Big Ghost Ltd., so check them shits out if you haven’t yet. This is his “major label debut” if I’m not mistaken, so that’s pretty exciting. I’ve seen loads of positive reception for this album, and I also really loved all the singles I heard, so I have no reason to expect anything other than a great album.

As always, I’ll write about all the tracks I liked before discussing the ones I didn’t care for. The opening song is called From King, and it’s hard as fuck. One thing I love about Conway is that his projects almost always have amazing intros. This definitely isn’t my favorite intro that he’s ever done, but it’s still fantastic. It begins with audio of an Alan Watts lecture entitled “Q&A with God,” laid over a sample of a song called Peace of Akatosh from the Oblivion soundtrack. Honestly, I know Griselda dabbles in nerdy stuff like wrastling, but I never would’ve expected them to sample a fucking Elder Scrolls game. That was not on my Griselda Bingo board. Anyway, I think the production here from Daringer is pretty dope. It kinda reminds me of the beat from the G.O.A.T. intro, although this one isn’t quite that good. It definitely sounds more polished though. It’s far more accessible sounding, and more detailed. Conway just spits one verse here, and it’s pretty great. It’s far from the best performance I’ve heard from him, but it’s still very good. His flow and rhymes were top notch. The lyrics themselves didn’t have as many quotable lines as I was hoping for, but overall I still think the verse was very good. The song is dope as hell. It’s followed by Fear of God, which I wrote about earlier this year in one of my Best Singles of the Week posts.

This is the second single from Conway the Machine‘s upcoming debut studio album, From King to a God. Obviously if you know me you know I’m a huge fan of him, so I’m gonna be all over that album when it drops. I believe it’s scheduled for 9/11, but I may be wrong about that. Anyway, I was actually a bit apprehensive when I saw this song because I honestly think DeJ Loaf is terrible, but this shit ended up being pretty dope. G. Ry & Hit-Boy’s production here is pretty phenomenal, and Conway of course murdered his verse.

Rappers actin' tough, showin' they fake aggressive side
'Til I see 'em in public, now they wanna contextualize
I heard niggas shot up your corner for a second time
Hit like two niggas, you pussy niggas have yet to slide
These verses is exercise, lately I'm feelin' like I'm the best alive
And this my first album, I just arrived
I hear niggas stealin' my lane, but we don't spit it the same
They say it's gettin' spooky, I hear niggas stealin' my slang
They tryna hang so they can get close to the book and just steal 'em a page

There’s only one verse on this track, and then DeJ Loaf sings the outro. I really could’ve done without her on this song to be honest, but she didn’t completely ruin it for me. I mean, she definitely tarnished it, but I still fuck with the song overall. I think this shit is dope.

This track is followed by yet another single that I previously wrote about entitled Lemon.

This is one of the best songs of the week. If you know me well, you know that I’m a huge fan of Conway the Machine, so when he announced that his official debut studio album, From King to a God, was dropping on September 11th, I was ecstatic. I was even more excited when I saw that he dropped the lead single, and that it featured Method Man. I had high expectations to begin with, but this song completely shattered them. First of all, this beat from Daringer and Beat Butcha is fucking amazing. Those dudes are talented as FUCK, man. This sounds like the original score to a super gritty Crime film. I love it. Conway slaughtered the opening verse too.

Bought the Benz truck and the Maybach with no lights
And straight from dealership, not from the auction with the low prices
A long way from sellin’ white and runnin’ from the po-lices
You niggas know who flow nicest, raise the bar like coke prices
Fronted the homie, caught a joint, he stopped answerin’
Been my nigga since grammar school, I don’t know how to handle it
Flee said, “You leave them knots in your chest, they gon’ turn to cancer then”
In other words, he sayin’ “Don’t let it slide, you gotta handle it”

I thought his verse was awesome, but then Method Man came in and absolutely demolished this shit. I’ve always liked Meth, but I never really understood people who said he was the best member of the Wu-Tang Clan. However, if every verse was this good I’d probably have that same opinion.

Killa Bees back in the building with Machine and ’em
We creamin’ ’em with pockets of dirty money, I’m clean again
Ain’t gotta tell you I’m dope, just stick the needle in
The Ghost’s Off-White big enough to fit this Eagle in
Tis’ the season then, why ask why? I has my reasons, and
My birds don’t need no seasonin’, Meth ODin’ this evening
Now ask yourself, is that really air that you breathin’ in?
I think outside the box, then I find a box I can keep ’em in

I love this song. I still gotta catch up and check out that project that Conway dropped with Big Ghost. Man is just dropping too much fire, I can’t keep up. I’m gonna be all over this album when it drops though. This shit is fire.

Track 4 is called Dough & Damani, and it’s another highlight for me. The first part of the song is produced by The Alchemist, and the beat is really goddamn smoove. The opening verse is fire too. I love how hard some of these lines are.

Half a brick on the table, I know it ain't gon' last
So much fishscale, the shit lookin' like a plate of bass
I told the bro, "Wear your gloves and cover your face with mask
Not for COVID-19, shit, you got H to bag"
Them niggas hate, but it don't make us mad
I'm sittin' courtside watchin' the Lakers play the Mavs
I ain't doin' no verses, homie, we can't collab
Every pole got a beam, we playin' laser tag

The verse is really dope. However, I actually prefer the second half of the song, which is produced by Daringer. Conway spits one of the coldest lines I’ve heard all year at this point.

Ain't wanna sell my man mama no work, I still sold her some

The verse he goes on to spit is boiling hot fiya too. Again, I definitely prefer the “Damani” part of the song over the first “Dough” part, but overall this shit is dope as hell. This one’s followed by yet another highlight entitled Juvenile Hell. The relatively uptempo production from Havoc here is awesome. It’s faster paced than the preceding track, but it still sounds just as dark and ominous. Conway slaughtered that first verse too.

On Burgard, right off Doat, I sold raw coke
I cried when Country Mike died, my heart broke
On the yard, get your jaw poked, as far as the bars wrote
Not only did I raise the bar, the bar broke
We shoot sticks with see-through clips
You better pray that bitch jam up when we doin' this
I breeze through Phipps, I need new drip, the grip on me
Think I'm lackin' this time? I'ma leave you clipped
Machine, you bitch

The hook that Havoc spits is perfect, and then Flee Lord comes through with a dope performance on the second verse.

Police got snuffed after he got bust
I turn a body to a bag soon as beef pop up
Send a hit through a text while you sittin' on your steps
That youngin' come in runnin' with the grip in his sweats
Black KITH Corona mask, MACs sittin' on the grass
Now I'm on tours, no more crack pitchin' on the ave
Sickest in the city, got the quickest hitters with me
My Cali homie lurkin' with the blicky in his Dickies

I honestly think his verse started off a little slow, but I was satisfied by the time he was done. Speaking of Flee Lord, he’s released a new album every single month of this year, and all of them are dope. Obviously I understand if you don’t wanna listen to 12 albums from the same artist, but I at least recommend No More Humble Fashion. That’s my favorite album he’s done so far. Anyway, Lloyd Banks easily had my favorite verse on this track. It was awesome to hear him here.

I'm on my rivals, embarrass 'em with my calm bravado
My alma mater of smackin' a nigga horizontal
The sole survivor, you stuntin', money be gone tomorrow
Pour out a bottle, tire marks spark the Verrazzano
As far as rhymin', I'm a god, don't pursue the incomparable
Feels like I'm up against the odds, watch me do the impossible
Infatuated with them lights, get you views in the hospital
Soon as you slip up, nigga, bet a blood pool'll be washin' you

I know Conway has said himself that he thinks Flee Lord had the best performance. Personally, Flee Lord probably had my least favorite verse here, but I still think he did a great job. There’s not a single bad verse here. The song is dope as hell. The next highlight for me is a song called Front Lines, which I wrote about earlier this year when it came out as a single.

I’m kinda becoming a broken record when it comes to Conway at this point. He’s my favorite gangsta rapper out right now, so I was super excited when I saw this track. I still haven’t checked out that Big Ghost Ltd. collab album yet, but I’m gonna be reviewing it sooner rather than later inshallah. Anyway, the song is fucking awesome. I love the grimy piano driven production from Beat Butcha, and Conway slaughtered it.

See me feedin’ the homeless, I needed these moments
I’m a boss, not just a rapper, I don’t see no opponents
A nigga hatin’ then he just caught in the heat of the moment
Prolly ’cause that 650, he see me and I own it

The sung hook reminded me of something ScHoolboy Q would do. It sounded really fucking dope. I feel like Conway‘s energy on this track is far more explosive and aggressive than it usually is. He sounds like a fucking beast here. That second verse was even crazier than the first one.

I just seen a video on the news I couldn’t believe
Another racist cop kill a nigga and get to leave
He’s screaming “I can’t breathe,” cop ignorin’ all his pleas
Hands in his pockets leanin’ on his neck with his knees
Cracker invent the laws, that’s why the system is flawed
Cops killin’ black people on camera and don’t get charged
We ain’t taking no more, we ain’t just pressin’ record
Can’t watch you kill my brother, you gon’ have to kill us all

He was fucking gettin’ busy on this track, man. This is next level shit. I always love Conway‘s music, but this shit is different. He fucking spazzed out here, man. This is easily one of my favorite songs of the week. Don’t sleep on this one. It’s dope af.

The next highlight for me is called Spurs 3. First of all, Beat Butcha’s production here is absolutely insane. I love how dark it is. It kinda reminds me of the beat from Hype by Drake, except less generic. Conway comes through with one of his coldest verses on the whole album too.

Detectives combin' through the hood lookin’ for a corpse
Draco hittin', I don't think your body can endure the force
I whip the fish up with a fuckin’ hanger or a fork
Told that bitch go ahead, sniff what you want, it's plenty more to snort
I had an outstandin' warrant for a short
Turned myself in rockin' Louis, and all my jewelry I wore to court
Huh, cop pulled me over in my imported Porsche
He said, "This car must be a hundred K," I said, "You forty short"

Damn near every single line in his verse is a quotable bar to me. I loved this part right here where he was bragging about the influence Griselda has had on the underground scene.

I don't wanna rap, don't wanna dap you niggas
I honestly don't give no fucks about bein’ friends with a rapper nigga
Griselda, bitch, we the inspiration
You can see me and Gunn influencin' all the music these niggas makin'
Ask B Dot and Elliot, they will tell you "yes"
Ask my nigga Mal and Joe Budden, they can tell you best
Ask the homie Wayno and 'em, they'll confess
Lotta albums are suddenly startin' to feel a lil' more Griselda-esque

He slaughtered this shit. The second verse from Westside Gunn is easily one of the wackest verses on the whole record, but I wouldn’t say it’s bad. It’s just nowhere near as good as most of the others. I did like that line about him stabbing the first nigga to touch his TV though. That was pretty cool. The final verse from Benny the Butcher is pretty great, although certainly not on the same level of Conway’s performance.

For pots with powder 'round the edges, this the grind that I perfected
I had to dodge a lot of questions from crooked homicide detectives
In a raid, white boys with vestes piled 'round the exits
Sawed-off shotgun, double barrel, I filed it down symmetric

I was satisfied with the features here, but they’re not touching Conway. He’s definitely the star of the show here. The song is dope af, and easily one of the best tracks on the album. It’s followed by yet another major highlight entitled Forever Droppin’ Tears.

This is his tribute to DJ Shay, who tragically passed away a few months before the release of this album. That was definitely one of the most shocking celebrity deaths of the year for me. I don’t even know if he’d be considered a celebrity though. I guess I should just refer to him as a musician first and foremost. Anyway, this is the most emotional moment on the record. The first verse is more about one of Conway’s old best friends who unfortunately passed away. The autobiographical nature of his writing really makes it clear that they were super close friends.

Used to go to Spoon studio when the block was slow
He pulled up in the fiend rental, I said I couldn't go
"Stay here," he said, "I'm comin' back, it might be late"
Two hours later, heard he crashed in a high speed chase
That took my motherfuckin' heart from me
But as long as I live, you always gon' be a part of me
Try to smoke away the pain, I couldn't shake it
I wish my nigga was here to see that his boy made it

The production here from Erick Sermon & Rockwilder is amazing by the way. I almost forgot to mention that. But goddamn. This song is sad as fuck. I felt it, man. If you want an example of pathos just listen to this shit because it’s emotional as fuck. It’s like he literally rapped a eulogy. The sung hook from ElCamino is pretty smooth, and the second verse stellar.

As Ricky Hyde would say it, shit was just startin' to get beautiful
I wrote this while gettin' dressed for your funeral
And I hope heaven got a studio
Thinkin' 'bout all the lives, including mine, that you impacted with this music, bro
Wish you got your flowers while you were still alive
Drunk a bottle with Shamerra and Dominic and I cried
When I got out the hospital from them shots I survived
You recorded me and helped me get confidence and my stride
For like a week straight I cried
I'm forever droppin' tears, but I know I got an angel in the sky

The song is fucking amazing to me. It ends with audio of DJ Shay speaking about his respect for Griselda. It’s a perfect way to end the song. This really feels like the closing track of the album, especially since it ends with that “Griselda by Fashion Rebels” tag. The following two songs really feel like bonus tracks. That’s not to say that they’re bad. They just feel like they’re separated from the rest of the project. The penultimate song is called Jesus Khrysis, and, as you probably guessed from the title, it has an amazing beat from Khrysis.

This is another major highlight for me. Even though it does feel like somewhat of an epilogue, I think its placement here works really well. It feels like Conway bouncing back from the grief that emanated from the preceding song.

I had rappers in my section tryna drink up my bottles like groupies
Ain't no rapper stoppin' my two-three
That's the zone I'm in, I write with a golden pen
But lately, I ain't even been writin', I just been goin' in
They say the eyes is the windows to the souls of men
I know some friends pocket watchin', plottin' on the dough I spend
No driver license, I drove a Benz
Everything I drop an album of the year contender, here I go again

The song is kinda short, and it’s just one verse, but it’s fire. I love how triumphant the production sounds, and the way Conway was talking shit was dope as fuck.

Bells palsy, bitches still say I'm sexy
Remember I used to go put work in, I would take the Pesci
That's what we call the thirty-eights to make sure they respect me
Correctional facilities can't correct me, nigga

It’s relatively short and has a super simplistic structure, but the production and the verse itself are fire. I think the song’s dope as hell. The closing track is called Nothin’ Less, and it has a super smooth beat from DJ Premier. It sounds like a cool breeze in the form of music. The opening verse from Conway is hard as shit too.

They love me for the fact that I'm actually harder
I probably sold crack to your mother and smack to your father
Can't get to you, then we whackin' your daughter
Probably wrap her in a carpet, let her body go splash in the harbor
Yeah, smokin' wax while I'm blastin' Tha Carter
I ain't never satisfied, so I have to go harder

The scratching from Premier on the hook is of course fire. The second verse has some really nice lines too.

You violate us, then you know it's beef
I'm from where the fiend clean your whole backyard just to smoke a piece
Lil' brother still keep the pole in reach
I tried to tell him, "Bro, you free
You already gave them crackers nine years of your life"
That's four behind the wall, another five on post-release

Much like the preceding song, this one feels like a bonus track. It’s still really great though. It just doesn’t feel as ambitious or unique as a lot of the others. The production is fire though, and the rapping is top notch. I think the song is dope as hell. Those are all the songs I enjoyed, so now I’ll talk about the tracks that I won’t be returning to. It’s worth noting that I don’t think any of the songs on the album are particularly bad. Some of them just don’t have any replay value for me. Like, I’m never gonna listen to those Words from Shay interludes. I get that he was paying tribute to a Buffalo legend and one of his deceased friends, and I have no issue with that. In fact, I’m glad he did that. I just kinda wish he did what he did with Forever Droppin’ Tears and tacked them onto the ends of the songs they follow because I personally have no reason to listen to them on their own. That’s a super nitpick though. As far as actual songs go, I didn’t really care for Anza. This is definitely one of the weakest songs on the album in my opinion, but I don’t think it’s bad. I’m honestly just not really into the production from Murda Beatz. It sounds like what I’d hear if I went to YouTube and searched “meek mill type beat.” It sounds pretty generic to me. I guess it is kinda cool to get some variation with the production style though. I just wish it was with a beat that I genuinely liked. This is easily the most accessible song on the album, and I imagine Conway will probably get some plays on the radio with it. It just feels kinda generic to me. All I can think of is Meek Mill whenever I hear it. I do like his rapping on the first few verses, but that’s all I can really say. I don’t care for the hook, and I honestly wasn’t crazy about the verse from Armani Caesar either. It’s definitely not trash. I don’t think she’s a bad rapper. This verse just wasn’t that entertaining for me. She doesn’t really stand out to me. Again, I don’t think it’s a bad song, and I appreciate Conway trying to do something different here. It unfortunately just didn’t work out for me. The same can be said about the song it precedes, Seen Everything But Jesus. This was pretty disappointing for me. I expected it to be one of the best songs on the album, but I just can’t get past that hook. Conway’s singing here, and it goes over about as well as you would expect it to. It sounds really goddamn bad to be honest. I’m also just not really that impressed by the production here from Beat Butcha. I thankfully do like the rapping here quite a bit, but it’s just not enough to save the song for me. Freddie Gibbs‘ verse is pretty damn good. I think his verse is probably the best aspect of the song to be honest. His singing at the beginning of the verse sounded relatively great. Compared to Conway he sounds like goddamn Luther Vandross. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t go that far. I do think he sounded good though. His vocals have definitely improved a lot. It’s always fun to see the growth when it comes to rappers’ singing ability. Anyway, on my first listen of the album this was my least favorite track, but that’s not the case anymore. I still don’t really think it’s that good, but it’s not bad at all either. I think the production is decent, and the rapping is really good. I just can’t get past that hook. It’s a decent track though.

This album is pretty great. It’s definitely not my favorite project from Conway, and I wouldn’t say it’s an album of the year contender for me, but it’s still definitely a must-listen album, and I’m glad I finally got around to it. It’s pretty much exactly what I was expecting to be honest. The quality of Conway’s rapping hasn’t diminished at all. The production & songwriting are just far more polished, and the content is a bit more fleshed out. There were a few artistic decisions I wasn’t crazy about, but nothing too egregious. I wouldn’t say there’s a single bad song here. Conway is still solidified as my favorite Griselda member, and one of my favorite Gangsta Rap artists ever. This shit is dope as hell. Don’t sleep on it.

Favorite Song: Forever Droppin’ Tears
Least Favorite Song: Anza


Watch the videos below for more thoughts on this album.

Grade: A-

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