Clear Soul Forces is the new old-school. As the name suggests, this Detroit group brings soul to their rap game. It’s not all about nostalgia and boom bap hip-hop, but rather bringing a modern touch to classic, sample-based rap and having fun while rapping. E-Fav, L.A.Z., Noveliss, and Ilajide bounce off of each other over Ilajide’s soulful and upbeat production. The nostalgic theme is furthered by the references and samples of classic video games. Clear Soul Forces found that they can satisfy a niche audience of nerdy hip-hop heads who will love hearing the references to Goldeneye 007, Street Fighter, Final Fantasy, The Legend of Zelda, Strider, and many other games, movies, and comic books. Admirably, they’re able to weave these nostalgic gaming references into their lyrics without sounding the least bit forced.
If you’re familiar with these things, it makes listening to Gold PP7’s a real treat. However, don’t get the impression that this album is only for the gamers. Even if you don’t catch all the references, it shouldn’t hinder your listening experience at all. If you simply want to hear some good, new hip-hop, Clear Soul Forces is one of the best new groups on the scene. Rhymes like “Bringing maximum carnage, be your own Basquiat / Put yourself in your art and originality tarnished by / Fear, not belonging, that’s what you walk on your own two for / Welcome to the Clone War” and excellent beats make the group accessible to just about anyone.
The chemistry among the members is one of the intangible x-factors making Gold PP7’s such an easy listen. The way they reflect off of each other’s ideas with such fluidity gives the impression that this is four young dudes having a blast doing what they are passionate about. They’re influenced by the sources of entertainment they grew up on, and those elements give charisma to their music. Sometimes they may get too caught up in this, for example when creating the Arnold Schwarzenegger “get to the choppa” and Allen Iverson “practice” skits. These cliches are passable and don’t add much of anything to the product, though it’s easy to overlook.
Clear Soul Forces took what made their debut, Detroit’s Revolution(s), a success and built on it in just about every way imaginable. They’re beginning to develop their own sound to distinguish themselves as more than “just another rap group”. As they continue to grow as artists, it’s not absurd to predict that Clear Soul Forces could be one of the most important groups in hip-hop going forward. If Gold PP7’s is lacking one thing, it’s that there isn’t enough stand-out material to make this something you’re going to be coming back to time and time again. However, it is a uniquely soulful and upbeat album that will strongly appeal to all the nerds out there. Whether it’s hip-hop or video games that you geek out for, Gold PP7’s is worth checking out.
// Notes from the Road
"With vibrant performances by artists including St. Vincent and TV on the Radio, the first half of the bi-annual Boston Calling Festival brought additional excitement to Memorial Day weekend.READ the article