Album Review | Sleep Sinatra & 8-bza – Spirit Box

This album was released on June 24th this year. Sleep Sinatra is one of my favorite independent artists that I’ve covered on this blog, so I was pretty excited when he announced this release. I was kind of surprised by it though because it came so soon after his collaborative album with KNGKVMI, Brainstormz. I didn’t cover that album, but I think it’s really good, so definitely check that one out if you haven’t heard it yet. On the other hand, 8-bza is an artist with whom I’m way less familiar. I’ve been following them for about a year or two—maybe even longer than that tbh—but this’ll be my first time listening to any of their work. I know they contributed to Iceberg Theory‘s magnum opus, Dispatches from the Kali Yuga, but aside from that I’m totally unfamiliar with their sound. With that said, I’m still expecting this to be really good just because the features are really exciting.

The album opens up with a song called Different Breed, which has a great feature from Teller Bank$. He murdered the first verse. This song has a really fun, melodic instrumental that I really love. Sleep did a fantastic job on the second verse too. I’m not sure whose performance I’m more impressed by between that of Sleep & Teller. That line from Teller Bank$ about how the eviction notice was like the blood of a lamb on his door was crazy. There’s really nothing I dislike about this song. I do always find it a little strange when the first voice I hear on an album is from a featured artist, but that’s just a personal pet peeve. Sleep Sinatra & Teller Bank$ are an unbeatable duo. This song is super dope. The following track is even better in my opinion. It’s entitled Trauma Porn, and I fucking adore the production. Sleep sounds amazing over it too. I even dig the straightforward structure of this song. The entire track is just one long verse. Sleep killed it.

It seems that the evil stuck
Division got the system glitchin' while we needin' bucks
And really I need some trust
But it's hard to not be guarded when y'all take precautions from the reaper's touch

I really like the way the instrumental kinda switches up and gets jazzier for the outro. Again, this song has a very straightforward structure, but I really dug it. It’s dope as hell. The following track, Ingredients, is somehow even better to me. The weird production from 8-bza on this song is fucking incredible to me. I absolutely adore this beat. The first verse from Sleep is great too. The second verse is performed by OchoPhono, who sounds great over this beat. This was my first time ever listening to OchoPhono rap, and I was sold as soon as I heard it. I was already really enjoying this song, but then the beat switched up to this really jazzy, melodic loop, and that pushed the song to the next level for me. Sleep’s flow on the final verse is fantastic. This is easily one of the best songs on the album. The following track is called The Code (Part 1). Once again, I was blown away by 8-bza’s production here. The instrumental here is really chill and melodic. I love it. Sleep rapped very well on each verse of this track too.

Truth be told, admiration for a beautiful soul
I soak in the scenery and use it to grow
It's like trees with the roots to hold
Mind probably move a mountain if I choose it, it's sold
Stay forward while I cruise to the goal
On the same soil where I had been bruised from the toes
Forever loyal to the brothers that know
We shed tears and blood for the sum of control

The hook is very good too. There’s really nothing about this song that I dislike. It’s got a pretty straightforward structure that I appreciate. Everything here is just really well done. I love the production, and Sleep fits over it perfectly. The song is dope as hell. It transitions really nicely into the following track, Eddie Gordo. This song’s got another really awesome beat. I love how jazzy and chill the production is. I really enjoyed the first verse from Sleep, and then the way the beat switches up for the next verse is awesome.

In the cut like surgical stitches
Get murked with the quickness
Versatile, it hurt 'cause I'm different
Niggas gettin' in emotions knowin' I'm relentless
My worth increase, they couldn't cop a sentence
This a sonic resemblance of God's vengeance
If I'm lyin' let lightning strike at this song's ending

I don’t know which part of the song I prefer. Both of the beats are great. If you put a gun to my head and asked me to choose my favorite part of the song, I’d probably say the second half just because the instrumental gets a little more upbeat. The song is dope as hell overall. The following track is called Limitless Pill, and I love the jazzy production. The first verse from Sleep is great too. I loved the Courage the Cowardly Dog reference. The instrumental switches up for the outro, which is kinda long-winded. It would’ve been cool to hear Sleep rhyme over the second beat because it’s really good, but I’m not gonna pretend to be too disappointed by them just leaving it as an instrumental. This song’s got a very straightforward structure, but I still really dug it. It’s a dope song. It’s followed by Forward Motion, which features Flashius Clayton & DJ Myth. This is easily my least favorite track on the album, but I definitely still like it quite a bit. I’m just not really crazy about the production. The loop is just not that interesting to me, and it’s pretty repetitive. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad beat at all, but it just doesn’t do much for me. I still like the song overall though because I think the rapping is pretty great. I think it was cool of them to say R.I.P. to Blacastan at the beginning of the track too. Blacastan wasn’t the most well known rapper, so it’s cool to see him getting some flowers these days. Anyway, the hook on this track is pretty solid, and Flashius Clayton killed the second verse.

Lean on the gas when I'm cookin' up that work
Other cats double back, I never put it in reverse
From Brooklyn to Leimert, when I accelerate
Friction from the tires leave a trail of fire in my wake

The record scratches that come in from DJ Myth after Flashius Clayton’s verse are fire too. It’s a good song. Again, it’s far from a favorite of mine, but I definitely still like it overall. It’s followed by a major highlight for me entitled Heart Murmurs. This song really stood out from the track list because it features two artists of whom I’m a big fan: Vic Spencer & Iceberg Theory. This might be a bizarre comparison, but to me 8-bza’s production here sounded like a weird DJ Premier beat. It reminded me of Classic (Better Than I’ve Ever Been). I obviously mean that as a compliment though. The beat is fire. The first from Sleep is awesome too. That line where he said “fungus-heads cappin’ like shrooms ’til I ate a few” was fire.

Been here, goofies in fear once I escape the gloom
This that proper concoction that had you scrapin' spoons
If rap was bloodsport I'll shed it 'cause I hate to lose
Knew I was a god when I was breakin' and remakin' rules
So while they on their knees prayin', I'll turn 'em into prey for food

Vic Spencer murdered that second verse too. I don’t know what it is about Vic, but he just always has such an effortlessly cool demeanor on whatever track he’s spitting on. I think a lot of it has to do with his voice, which is perfect for rap. He sounded phenomenal here. Y’all already know I of course loved the final verse from Iceberg Theory too. This track is a strong contender for my favorite song on the album. I still haven’t decided between this one and Ingredients. I think when it comes to the actual rapping I prefer this track, but Ingredients has a better instrumental in my opinion. Both of them are some of the best songs I’ve heard all year. Anyway, I love the jazzy outro of this track. There’s nothing about this song that I wasn’t impressed by. I think it’s dope af. The penultimate track is entitled Spinning Clothesline (8-bza Edit), and it’s got another verse from OchoPhono. The beat on this song is fucking crazy. I love how dirty the percussion is. It’s a really ugly beat, but in the best way possible. I love it. The verse from OchoPhono was great too. I love the way Sleep’s verse starts as well. The part about how he’d whip a white man ’til his face looks like rotten tomatoes was funny. I think a good hook could’ve pushed this song to the next level probably, but I’d be lying if I said I had any real complaints with this song. I think it’s dope. The closing track is called The Code (Part 2), and it’s a remix of The Code (Part 1). I guess they had two versions of the same song and couldn’t decide which one was better. I get it honestly. Both versions are really good. If I had to choose one over the other I’d definitely go with Part 1, but, like I said, both versions are fire. This shit is dope.

This album is dope as hell. This is the most I’ve enjoyed a Sleep Sinatra project since his DIVINENATION album. I honestly really enjoyed the production from 8-bza more than I expected to. I really love these beats. I’d never heard 8-bza’s production before, so I was a little blown away by how great all these instrumentals are. That was a very pleasant surprise. Sleep’s rapping is about as great as I’ve come to expect from him at this point, so it wasn’t like he threw any curveballs at me. I don’t wanna sound like a broken record in these reviews, so there’s not much for me to say about Sleep that I haven’t said before. However, I do want to stress how well he fits over these beats from 8-bza. I wouldn’t mind hearing more work from these two again in the future, whether working together or separately. This is definitely another one of the best albums I’ve heard this year. I have no real gripes with it honestly. I think they knocked this one outta the park. It’s fire. Check it out.

Favorite Song: Ingredients
Least Favorite SOng: Forward Motion


Grade: A-

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