Album Review | IAMGAWD & The Black Depths – Murder Castle

This album was released on May 6th this year. The first time I heard IAMGAWD rap was when he was featured on Mic Logik‘s album from last year. I then checked out the album he released with Doc da Mindbenda last year entitled Heaven’s Demons & Hell’s Angels, and I kinda felt bad about not covering it because it was so good. That’s the main reason I’m reviewing this latest project. I’m personally not actually familiar with The Black Depths, so I don’t know what to expect from this project in terms of production. I think I’m gonna really enjoy this project though because IAMGAWD is an undeniably skilled MC. Also, the features on this project are really exciting to me.

The album begins with Straitjacket Rap, which actually features a verse from The Black Depths. I really love the electric guitar-driven production, and IAMGAWD of course murdered the first verse. This was one of my favorite couplets…

IAMGAWD, rap niggas cry and sob in they dialogue
While I evolve into the best by and large without tryin' hard

There aren’t a lot of rappers out right now who can effortlessly rhyme the way IAMGAWD does. The second verse from The Black Depths is actually very good as well though.

You chargin' batteries then they charge me with battery
Lacerated by jagged shards from your shattered dreams
I am reaver, soul stealer, my nails and cuticles
Carry your blood as a souvenir, the tale is beautiful

They both killed this shit. I liked this song on my first listen of the album, but now I love it. It really grew on me a lot. I think it’s dope as hell. It’s followed by the title track, Murder Castle, which is another highlight for me. I love how dark and grimy the production here is. IAMGAWD of course killed the first verse.

From this windy city metropolis, what rappin' nigga stoppin' this?
Lyrically I'm a foot on these rappin' niggas' esophagus
I'm top tier, no I do not fear a single one of my Hip Hop peers
I drop bombs, you drop tears
It's clear niggas not as gifted, niggas got it twisted
I'm way too sadistic, you way too optimistic
Thinkin' you can survive in the murder castle
Lyrics burn like Tobasco, I'm 'bout that action
You niggas prefer the chapel though

There’s not really a hook on this track. The verses are just divided by the sound of people screaming in the background. The second verse is just as good as the first one. This track is pretty straightforward; it’s just two fantastic verses over a really menacing beat. The simplicity doesn’t even bother me because everything is so well done. This shit is dope as hell. The next track is called The Rawest, and it’s got another really dark, ominous instrumental.

Once again, the structure of this song is very straightforward. It’s pretty much just one long verse. It’s really good though. I’m probably gonna sound like a broken record throughout this review just because I feel similarly about most of the tracks, but it is what it is. IAMGAWD killed the verse here.

Runnin' round in rowhouses, dope boys in dopehouses
Coke mountains, bitches scratchin' and clawin' with no blouses
No outlets, only the streets, homie, it's deep
This ain't no cap, it's all facts, rap was my only retreat
So I studied the goats, been everything from bloody to broke
But now buddy dope, and spit nothin' but the ugliest quotes

The song is dope. It doesn’t necessarily stand out from the other tracks that much in my opinion, but I definitely fuck with it. Track 4 is a highlight called Buck 50s n’ Starter Jackets, and it was one of the more exciting songs in the tracklist for me because it features Vakill. Once again, the production is very dark and grimy. This song actually has a pretty good hook too, which I appreciate. The first verse from IAMGAWD is dope. It’s far from my favorite from him on this album, but it was definitely still really good. Vakill fucking killed this shit though. His voice provided a really nice contrast to that of IAMGAWD in my opinion. He had my favorite verse on this track, but it’s not like he completely blew IAMGAWD out of the water. They both killed this track. I love it. The song is dope as hell. Triple Homicide was another really exciting track for me because it has a feature from Vic Spencer. It also has a feature from someone named Weasel Sims, with whom I was previously unfamiliar. Anyway, this track actually has one of my favorite beats on the album. It’s just as dark as the preceding few beats, but it’s also a bit more fast-paced & melodic. IAMGAWD definitely had my favorite verse on this track.

Bitch, ain't no equal, my shit is lethal and incomparable
The flow flawless, plus I'm one of the rawest with the parables
Niggas be thinkin' they fuckin' with me, that's just hysterical
The sickest son of a bitch to spit it, go get the Theraflu
Fuck your antibodies, I'm anti-everybody, deadly hobbies
Murder shit for fun, I'm catching heavy bodies
Heavy shotty draggin' right beside me for who might defy me
Chose to stay the course for this music for what it might provide me

He was already killing it, but then he switched to a really nice double time flow, which really pushed things to the next level for me. Vic Spencer killed this shit too though. He sounded awesome over this beat. I think there might’ve been a subliminal Mick Jenkins diss in there too, but I could be reaching. I don’t know. The final verse from Weasel Sims is pretty good as well. With that said, he definitely had my least favorite verse. I still enjoyed his performance though. This is definitely one of my favorite songs on the album. I think it’s dope as hell. The following track is called Cheat Code Flows, and it features J. Arrr. This track has another really great beat. The melody at the beginning kinda reminds me of Gucci Mane’s Plain Jane. This is a much more fast-paced instrumental than that of Plain Jane though. IAMGAWD fucking murdered the first verse. I think this song has some of the best rapping on the whole album, which is saying a lot.

You have to hate it how I leave these rappers aggravated
Fuck COVID, I flow with a sickness that can't be vaccinated
Bitches get the dick, niggas get emasculated
Must be fascinated with thoughts of bein' assassinated
When you rappers play with the G-A-W-4th letter
Will I ever think it's somebody better? Of course never

I’m mostly familiar with J. Arrr through his work with Ransom, and I was kind of disappointed by his Broken Easel project from last year, but he thankfully came through with a great performance on this track. I definitely think IAMGAWD had the better verse, but J. Arrr held his own. The song is dope as hell. It’s followed by Off Ya Shoulders, which is definitely my least favorite song on the album, but I still like it to some extent.

The main reason I don’t love this track as much is just because I’m not crazy about the melodic hook. It’s not terrible or anything, but it’s easily my least favorite aspect of this song. Thankfully, the chaotic instrumental is actually really awesome, and IAMGAWD rapped about as well as I’ve come to expect from him. The Chappelle Show clips were a funny addition too. It’s far from a highlight for me, but I definitely enjoyed it to some extent. I think it’s a good song. Track 8 is entitled Murder 1, and it features greenSLLIME, who’s been killing a lot of features on projects that I enjoy lately.

The beat is pretty grimy, which I appreciate. The first verse from IAMGAWD is dope, and there’s a pretty nice hook on this track too. The second verse from greenSLLIME is great. I think IAMGAWD is more technically proficient as a rapper, but SLLIME provided a nice contrast to IAMGAWD’s style. This song isn’t really a highlight for me, but I definitely enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s got a good hook, and two really good verses. It’s dope. Track 9 is called House of 1000 Corpses, and it was another one of the more exciting songs for me because it features Skanks the Rap Martyr, with whom I’m familiar through his work with Ruste Juxx. It also features an artist named A.M. Early Morning. The beat isn’t as dark as a lot of the others, which I actually appreciate. It’s nice that there’s some variation when it comes to the instrumentals. The beat is dope. IAMGAWD killed the first verse too.

You'll never be better, just set a different set of goals
Hit you with some shit that leave you with a different set of holes
Expose those bozos with stole flows
Pierce frontal lobes with nose bones, your soul rose
And ascended to the gates of heaven
I never front on the hard times 'cause truthfully that's the shit that create the legends

He rhymed his motherfuckin’ ass off. The hook from A.M. Early Morning is pretty solid, and the second verse from IAMGAWD is awesome. Skanks fucking killed that last verse too. His flow was so dope to me. I love the way that dude raps. I gotta check out a project from him at some point because he always really impresses me whenever I hear him on features. The song was already great, but he really elevated this shit for me. This song is dope as hell. It’s followed by Uncontrolled Substance, which features an artist named Jae Haze. I really love the beat on this track, and IAMGAWD killed the first verse. The way the instrumental switches up after the verse is fucking awesome. My face twisted up the first time I heard that part of the song. I was really impressed by the second verse from Jae Haze too.

Don't play no games or none of the sort, this ain't a sport
Keep my sword sharp, cuttin' off heads, brains on the floor
I'm in Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, dripped to the floor
Tell Virgil write "nice" on the Off-Whites on my toes

I like how IAMGAWD came in right behind him to spit one more verse too. This song wasn’t really a highlight for me on my first listen of the album, but it grew on me after I heard it multiple times. I think it’s dope as hell. Track 11 is another highlight entitled To Live & Die in the Chi. I love the dark, grimy production on this track. I think one of the main reasons I love this song so much is that the lyrical content is actually different from most of the other tracks. He’s not just rapping about being the best rapper from Chicago on this track.

I'd like to welcome you to the city of deadhead drillers, hitters, and gangbangers
Shit ain't all bad, but of course the ghetto remain heinous
Shooters aim stainless, the aim is smokin' the opp
Open your top, mothers bury they sons, hopin' it stop

The content about violence in the city is really interesting to me. This song’s got a pretty nice hook too, and both of the verses are super well-written. This is one of the best songs on the album in my opinion. I think it’s dope as hell. The penultimate song is called Cooley High, and it features an artist named WateRR. The Black Depths flipped the same sample that 9th Wonder used for Twofifteen by Black Thought. Thankfully, it’s done in a different enough way to prevent it from sounding too similar. I think the beat is awesome. IAMGAWD’s flow on the first verse is really goddamn nice. Once again, the content is actually pretty different from the majority of the other tracks, which I appreciate. I don’t know who I’m more impressed by between IAMGAWD & The Black Depths to be honest. The beat is awesome, and IAMGAWD sounds fantastic over it. WateRR impressively kept up with both of them too. He did a great job on the second verse. This is a strong contender for my favorite track on the album honestly. I love everything about it. I think it’s dope as hell. The closing track is entitled The Most Exalted. The beat is pretty dope, and IAMGAWD fucking spazzed over it. I think this track has some of the best rapping on the whole album. He really ended this project with a bang. This line was pretty funny to me.

I fear nothing that eat, sleep, shit, piss, walk, talk, fart, fuck
Rap niggas they all suck

I just like that he included the word “fart” in that line. At first I misheard the line and thought that he said HE does nothing but eat, sleep, shit, piss, walk, talk, fart, and fuck, which honestly would’ve been funnier, but it is what it is. Anyway, this song is another highlight for me despite it’s straightforward structure. The rapping is too good for me to not rate it highly. I think it’s dope as hell.

This album is really goddamn great. There’s not a single track here that I don’t like. I don’t really know how you can hear a project like this and not think that IAMGAWD is one of the illest lyricists out of Chicago right now. Fuck that; he’s one of the illest rappers period. There’s not a single unimpressive, subpar verse on this project, whether it be from him or one of features. I look forward to seeing him grow into a high profile artist because if he keeps up this level of quality then there’s no way he won’t catch on at least in the underground. He’s already working with legends like Vakill, so that’s a good sign. My only nitpick with this project is that some of the lyrical content can get a bit redundant, but it’s so well done that I don’t even really mind. I would like to hear some more introspection from him in the future because I still feel like I don’t know him that well as a person, but I’ve only heard two projects from him at this point, and I’m sure I’ll get to know him better on future releases. Anyway, check this album out and let me know what you think. It’s dope as hell to me.

Favorite Song: Triple Homicide
Least Favorite SOng: Off Ya Shoulders


Grade: A-

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