This album was released on April 30th this year. Skribbal is an artist from Los Angeles who I just became familiar with fairly recently. I believe I’ve heard every single from this album if I’m not mistaken, and I haven’t heard anything really wack yet, so I think I’m gonna dig this project. Aside from the singles I’ve heard, I’m pretty much going into this blind.
As always, I’ll write about the songs I like before discussing the tracks I won’t be returning to. This album begins with an intro entitled The Retribution. It features an artist named Chris Barnes, who’s a member of bands like Cannibal Corpse and Six Feet Under. I personally am not into Death Metal at all, so I had no idea who he was. I didn’t mind his feature here though. Right off the bat, the album hits listeners with a very Horrorcore-esque intro in which Barnes delivers a very dramatic, deep-voiced description of who the black eyed children are and what they do. It’s kinda cheesy, but it’s not bad if you don’t take it too seriously. The actual verse from Skribbal is pretty dope. Basically, the black eyed children are kids who were mistreated by adults. I don’t know if they’re dead or just possessed or what. I know it’s based on a modern urban legend, but I don’t know the details. All I know is that the little creepy kids with black eyes are trying to get revenge on adults.
We the black eyed children
Bust through the door, kill 'em all, what a feelin'
Bodies all drop when we pop up from the ceilin''
Feast on the weak, no peace for the villain
Releasing the beast in the buildin'
I think Skribbal’s flow sounds pretty nice, and I really like his vocal delivery. I don’t think the song is amazing or anything, but it’s a pretty good intro in my opinion. I fuck with it. Aside from Halloween Apples, this is the most horror-tinged track on the whole project. Usually the opening track sets the tone for an album, so I thought there would be more shit like this, but I’m frankly glad that there wasn’t. Despite the loose theme, this isn’t really a Horrorcore project. Anyway, track 2 is called Born All Over. I really like the sample-based production here from Chop Lui. The opening verse from Skribbal is kind of autobiographical, which I appreciate. I think it’s very well-written, and his flow was nice.
Orphan, all I had was music and a dream
Writing every minute, I was using it to breathe
Finally found a way to calm the beast through the ink
Beneath my hardened heart was a child feelin' weak
Black eyed freak, dirty clothes, dirty feet
Dirty scumbag fam, I heard they cook speed
Never snitched once, learned to keep my mouth shut
Any narc comin' round gettin' dropped to they knees
The hook isn’t really anything special to me, but it serves its purpose well enough. The record scratches were a nice touch I suppose. The second verse is performed by Big Left, who was technically a member of La Coka Nostra at one point. However, he was never as active of a member as Slaine or Ill Bill if I’m remembering correctly. Anyway, the verse itself is actually pretty great; in fact, it was better than I was expecting it to be.
I laughed in the face of death until I faced death
Drank most my dinner and Christmas ain't came yet
Bronx motherfucker, wrote the Bible on this rap shit
Past tense, post-mortem, brother's in a casket
Overall, I think this track is even better than the intro. I like the content about using Hip Hop to cope with bullshit. It’s really dope. Track 3 is called Find My Way. This was released ahead of the album’s release as a single, but I didn’t hear it until listening to the full album. It has my favorite instrumental up to this point on the record; kudos to Bill Fires for the beat. I also like the hook here more than that of the preceding track. The opening verse is great.
I been racing against the force, my soul so shallow
Hang me at the gallows, enslave me to the shadows
My faith so shallow, heart so hollow
Forced into this world and I can't face tomorrow
Can't face the sorrow, never sheltered, took the long road
Trudging through the mud, dirty mug with a raw flow
I thought I knew it all though, thought that I was stronger
My mind don't stop racing until everything is calmer
I think the second verse is even better though. The writing here is really great. The content about growing up around drug abuse and addiction was pretty interesting. I think this is easily the best song up to this point on the record. This shit is dope. The following track is called Bring the Pain. The production from Tommy Illfiger here is actually really goddamn dope. On my first listen, I really liked how the album seemed to be getting better with every track. The opening verse on this song is pretty dope.
I been through the grief, questioned my beliefs
Prayed and played the game, but found nothing but deceit
What did I achieve? ‘Cause it ain't clear to me
From the outside lookin' in tell me how do you perceive
Who I seem to be? I don't let it lead
To negative perception of myself, I salt the leech
‘Cause if I don't it feeds on my soul ’til it bleeds
Then I'm cold slowly dying from disease
The hook honestly isn’t anything special, but it serves its purpose as a break between the two verses well enough. Skribbal killed the second verse. He was rhyming really well, and his flow sounded super smooth. The song’s got a very straightforward structure, so it isn’t super memorable compared to some of the other tracks, but I still really fuck with it. I think it’s dope. I don’t like Vampire Tactics quite as much, but I still fuck with it. The production on this one from Scott Van Heldt & Abel Vallejo is really nice. The guitar from Marcos Curiel was a really nice touch too. The first verse from Skribbal is nice, and I think the content about people in the music industry being bloodsuckers is pretty cool.
Raised with the bugs, now I'm with the birds
Went from crawling in the dirt to flyin' right near the sun
Forget where I came from and show no love
Managers and agents want to suck my blood
Day or night, they don't give a fuck, vampirе tactics
Throw you to the wolves when thе cash thick
I’m honestly not crazy about the sung hook by Scott Van Heldt, but it’s not bad enough to ruin the song for me. The second verse is nice. Again, this isn’t really a highlight for me on the album, but I do enjoy it to some extent. I think it’s pretty good. The following track, Dreams in the Witch House, is a bit better to me. The beat on this track from Dennis Enright kinda sounds like a less Poppy version of ZEZE by Kodak Black. I think it’s really dope. Skribbal gives one of his best performances on the mic up to this point with the first verse of this track.
Resurrector: born again dissector
Slice a rapper quicker than liquor hit your receptors
Child of the state, vile out the gate
I smile at my enemies and dial in they fate
His flow and delivery sounds great here. I wasn’t familiar with Redcloud before hearing this track, and his voice and delivery really caught me off guard. He sounds weird as fuck here, but not in a bad way. He just sounds unique. He kinda reminds me of MC Frontalot. He sounds more like a Horrorcore artist than a Nerdcore rapper though. I mean, the opening lines about joining the Power Rangers are certainly nerdy as fuck, but they’re also super edgy. He ends the verse by saying that if he was Abraham he would’ve told God to suck his dick, which is pretty funny. I think it was a really good verse. This is definitely my favorite track up to this point on the record. I think it’s really dope. The beat on this Keep It Movin’ is pretty solid, and I love how aggressive and disrespectful Skribbal is on the first verse.
Walk up in your house spittin' bars like it's nothin'
Then punch you in the motherfuckin' mouth for interruptin'
I keep it G, and by "G," bitch, I mean glutton
Eatin' up these rappers why I'm pushin' three-hundred
They talk shit then want a verse when you buzzin'
Tell 'em eat a fat bag of dicks, y'all buggin'
Tell me who the GOAT, I'll grab him by the tail
Skin him for a coat and throw his body in the well
He killed it. I wasn’t really sure how I felt about the melodic hook from Skribbal on my first listen. I didn’t think it was trash, but I wasn’t in love with it either. My ambivalence turned out to be an accurate warning sign because the more I listen to the song, the less I like the hook. I can tolerate it though. I’m not crazy about the second verse from Iyze Lowe, but it’s sufficient. I would’ve preferred if Skribbal just handled this track on his own to be honest. His final verse on this track is really great. Overall, I think the song is pretty good. The noisy intro to this The Man Who Fell from the Sky is just ever so slightly irritating, but it transitions into one of my favorite instrumentals on the whole album, so I don’t really mind it. This track is pretty much just one long verse in which Skribbal tells a story about committing a terrorist attack. The story isn’t particularly interesting to me, but the manner in which it’s told is very well done. I mainly enjoy the song sonically because the beat is great, and Skribbal’s flow and delivery sound great over it. This is definitely one of the better songs on the album in my opinion. I think it’s really dope. It’s followed by Better Than Ever. This song has one of the best instrumentals on the whole album from Pragmatic. It’s really clean and lavish sounding, kinda like something Rick Ross would rhyme over. It’s dope as hell. I really appreciate the more personal, somewhat introspective lyricism from Skribbal on this track. The first verse is really great. Unfortunately, I really do not care for the sung hook at all. Skribbal’s high-pitched, nasally voice just doesn’t work as well for singing as it does for rapping. I wasn’t familiar with Emcyst at all before listening to this track, but he ended up really impressing me on the second verse. Overall, this was almost one of my favorite tracks. However, it has arguably my least favorite hook on the whole album, so that knocks it down a peg or two. I still think it’s a good song as a whole though. I fuck with it. The following couple tracks are called We Are Not Alone & Halloween Apples, respectively. I wrote about both of them in my old Best Singles of the Week series.
We Are Not Alone is a single inspired by the abusive environments in which Skribbal was raised as a child. It gets pretty dark with the lyricism.
Every rain I would sneak out to my tree house
Roaming around the slum I was cold as they come
Lost inside a world that swallowed everything I loved
I was tired of the violence
Mama covered in the blood
I was done
Skribbal’s voice kinda reminds me of B-Real, but that might just be me. I really love the production from Pragmatic, and the vocals from Aether Haze on the second verse were nice too. This single comes from Skribbal’s upcoming Black Eyed Children album, so be on the lookout for that.
I haven’t really spoken about it before, but Celph Titled actually has my number 1 favorite voice in Rap, so I was super excited when I saw that Skribbal got him for Halloween Apples. I’m not really familiar with Damian Krypt, but I thought he did a pretty good job on the opening verse. This song has kind of a Horrorcore tinge to it, so it reminds me of something I’d hear from The Circle of Tyrants. Skribbal still sounds a lot like B-Real to me here. He fucking slaughtered that second verse though. His flow was great. I’m not really crazy about the hook, but Celph Titled killed the last verse. I’d still say Skribbal had the best performance though. It almost felt like his verse was longer than that of the others, but I might be trippin’. Overall, I think the song’s really dope. Check it out.
Track 12 is a highlight entitled Beyond the Black Rainbow. This track has my favorite beat on the whole project. Bill Fires did a great job with this track. It sounds like something a Dreamville artist would spit over in my opinion. I really like the way Skribbal says “I think I’m still trippin’ off that acid” on the first verse. The whole verse is great, but he steps it up for verse two.
That's when I set it off, everybody read it wrong
Everybody doubted without a doubt so I let it all
Shine through the light that I stay emanatin'
The fire burnin' hot, I spit it out and get it blazin'
I appreciate how this song actually has a third verse, which is feeling rarer and rarer everyday. I really have no gripes with this track at all. I think it’s easily one of the best songs on the project. The production is great, the verses are super well written, his flow and delivery sounds fantastic, and the song has an encouraging message. I think this track is dope as hell. The penultimate song is entitled Wreck the System. This is the first song that I ever heard by Skribbal. I think it’s one of the best tracks on the album. The production is really cool, and the way Skribbal goes back and forth with The R.O.C. is dope as fuck. Skribbal killed this shit.
The eyes are windows to the soul, stare into the cold
My word are weapons and my weapons reload
I been defective since inception, I was destined to blow
My insurrection resurrected my obsession with flow
I’d never heard of The R.O.C. prior to hearing this track, but he did a really nice job in my opinion. However, the real icing on the cake is the final section of the song in which Mr. Dibbs goes ham & cheese on the turntable. I think everyone involved in this track did a great job. This shit is dope as hell. The only track that I don’t care for on this album is entitled Pass the Green. I appreciate the content on this track about shmoking weed, and this is where the B-Real comparison is just too obvious to ignore, but there are three features on this song, and I don’t care for any of them. I suppose the opening verse from Chucky Chuck is decent, and… I guess the same can be said for the final verse from Dopehead Dan. However, I just really can’t stand the sung hook from Brainded. The singing just sounds really bad to me over the beat from Karim El Masry. I don’t think it’s a bad song, but it’s not something that I’ll be returning to. It’s a decent track overall, although I will say it feels like an odd way to close the album.
This is a very good album. I definitely think there’s room for improvement, but I enjoyed it overall. There aren’t any tracks that I would say are bad, but a common weakness in a lot of them is the hook. I don’t think I enjoyed a single one of the sung hooks. At worst they were really bad, and at best they were okay. Aside from that, I really just have to nitpick the whole black-eyed children theme. I feel like the album started off very focused with the intro, and Skribbal loosely carried the theme whenever he mentioned his childhood, but that’s pretty much it. The thing is, I’d be fine with how surface level it is if it ended as well as it started. It just felt kinda random to me that the album suddenly ended with a weed anthem. It’s not a huge deal though because I enjoyed every track to some extent. The songs range from decent to awesome, so I definitely think this album was a success. I’m hoping that future releases have better hooks and maybe more focused themes, but I’m satisfied with this project overall. It’s dope.