Hip-hop is one of the most American and truest expressions of music and free speech. Many have ultimately accepted the golden age of hip-hop has long disappeared because the mainstream rap scene is not as conscious now and is lacking in a consistently positive meaning. However, that style of hip-hop is far from gone. It still has its champion producers and rappers like DJ Premier and De La Soul who are still doing their thing.
But if anyone was wondering if the new generation can secure the values and raw talent past eras of hip-hop legends, then Maryland rapper Substantial definitely is keeping that will of fire alive with passion and optimism.
Substantial, whose real name is Stanley Robinson, has been a successful wordsmith for over a decade, steadily making impressive and thought-provoking lyrics and production in the mainly underground hip-hop scene. He has worked with many notable producers, most notably with the great and late Nujabes, a Japanese DJ/producer.
The Past Is Always Present In The Future was finally released January 6. Substantial’s new album is his highly anticipated fourth and most message-filled studio album ever. It covers issues from civil rights, discussions about the future of the world through the eyes of his daughter, the importance of family and connection, and the importance of focusing and maintaining the beauties that goals in life have for everyone. The direction of where rap music is going and also issues affecting Black Americans in these modern times of civil unrest and social division is also discussed.
The album is set in four different themes with seventeen tracks besides the very first song. The four themes covering the past, present, future and an “always” theme each have a set of four songs. Each song carefully depicts the theme with great precision, creativity and is filled with excellent references, head-nodding beats and is filled with emotion and energy and Substantial’s clever wordplay is as lyrically and stylishly sharp as ever.
Tracks that I heavily recommend for the reader that want some authentic, straightforward and mesmerizingly soulful music are the tracks: It Could Happen, Made in Maryland, In My Daughter’s Eyes, Lasting Impression and Always.
Many artists guest feature on this album, such as Ethiopian-born singer Wayna and the underground group CYNE rapper Cise Starr.
Substantial has returned with a fresh-sounding and much needed musical masterpiece that pays respect to generations from before and now and even ahead of time that should not be overlooked because he is definitely worth finding out about.