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La Maquina

by Conway the Machine

Released April 16, 2021 via Griselda Records / Drumwork / EMPIRE

Reviewed April 26, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Scatter Brain (56%), 200 Pies (38%), Am I Wrong (38%)

It’s exciting to see where the Griselda emcees are navigating their individual careers after having adjusted to being hip-hop household names. Conway the Machine has reached a cruising altitude a ways above the competition, and somewhat near the peak of his potential; La Maquina is a fine example of what he can do with relative ease at this time in his career. While some of the beats on La Maquina certainly outshine others, they each combine and speak to a variety of Griselda-friendly listeners. Conway’s fan base seems to balloon and diversify with each passing release, and he’s wisely embraced the phenomenon by offering a range of sounds that fans old and new may appreciate. Lyrically, The Machine continues to hang his hat on the prowess he and his guests consistently display for over 40 minutes. With a growing number of rap legends either resting in power or enjoying life after hip-hop, Conway offers what so many fans of the genre ache for, and what his blend of old and new is doing for rap music cannot be understated. – DeVán (8/10)

From a lyrical standpoint, Conway is leveling up on La Maquina. His lines seem to be less derivative than they are on previous projects and his punchlines are as good as they’ve ever been. Unfortunately, that’s only half the equation. While the instrumentals themselves are great and varied, Conway still sounds as awkward on trap beats as he did on From King to a God’s “Anza.” A pop rap direction is relatively new for Conway, and his attempts to emulate other, younger rappers’ flows (Kodak Black, JID) fall flat. The other glaring flaw on this album is the hooks. All this album’s best songs tend to take on the structure of “all verses, no hooks,” and the worst ones usually consist of Conway trying to sing or sound trendy. At the end of the day, fans of Conway and Griselda’s traditional style still get some of what they want and he gets to delve further into a style that he’d only dipped his toes in. – Alan (7.9/10)

There’s just something gratifying about opening lyrics that accurately set the entire tone for an album: N.W.A’s “Straight Outta Compton,” Dre’s “The Chronic (Intro),” or ODB’s “Intro,” for example. The feeling when you’ve finished an album, put it on repeat, and the first few words feel as natural at the beginning as they do at the end, and the loop that those lyrics can create. When Conway The Machine says, “grimiest of all time, I’m back in that zone,” it’s a faultless analysis of the performance he is to give on La Maquina. While 2020’s From King to a God found Conway stepping out of his comfort zone and not quite hitting the mark throughout, this follow-up feels like a realization of what makes the rapper great in both his classic sounds—dating back to Reject 2—and his cleaner, more modern efforts. The intricate lyrical webs he spins over the muted instrumental on “Bruiser Brody'' harkens back to his Everybody Is F.O.O.D trilogy, and he even pulls 2 Chainz into one of these understated tracks on “200 Pies,” which makes for one of the best tracks on this project. However, the more polished and trap-influenced moments also contribute heavily to the success of the project, with “KD” and “Scatter Brain'' (featuring Ludacris and JID) being some of the most intriguing and potent lyrical moments from Conway. The griminess is in full effect on La Maquina, which is refreshing after an album that sorely lacked the tried-and-true formula for Griselda releases. Strange how grime can become so reinvigorating… – Pax (7.8/10)

DeVán: 8/10 | Alan: 7.9/10 | Pax: 7.8/10 | Dominick: 7.3/10

Cam: 7/10 | Jared: 7/10 | Hadley: 6.5/10


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