I recently got the opportunity to listen to and review the latest mixtape from rapper Elohin (pronounced El-o-in), Boom Bap Soul.
The album has everything that a hip-hop album (or mixtape, as the case may be) should have.
The project has, as you may guess, a very boom bap feel. It’s no secret that boom bap is one of my favorite hip-hop styles, and I found Elohin’s treatment of the art form refreshing. Let’s dive in!
Back to the Boom Bap (intro)
The intro track immediately grabs my attention with audio clip samples, turntablism, lyricism, and a very boom-bap-y instrumental. Elohin both tells us and shows us what he intends to do on this project.
On My Knees
“On my knees, my heart is achin’”
Soulful croonings punctuate this track almost as much as the soul that permeates the lyrics. Elohin begins by relating some of his own internal struggles and follows up by urging the listener to contemplate the reality of their eventual death. The song has obvious blues influences and makes for a fantastic first track.
No Way (Freestyle)
Elohin tells us some of the story of his life, emphasizing that there’s “no way” he’d be where he is now without God. The emcee contemplates the realities of life, the nature of wisdom, and more, giving the listener opportunity to reflect during several turntablism breaks.
“If life is a marathon why’s it movin’ so fast?”
“I make it real hard to ignore ‘cause you never heard this before / now your earbuds ‘bout to blow, giving you that boom bap soul”
“It’s OK” ushers in some more mellow (yet still just as boom bap) vibes. Elohin continues with the wordplay while talking about the music business. Although the song is a solid one, nothing about it really stands out as exceptional.
Elohin adamantly rebukes the “snakes” that he sees in the world over a head-nodding drum loop on this track. The emcee spits bars on this song, but the hook is a little awkward-sounding and the mix could be better in a few spots.
“Road Blocks” presents a long-form, no-hook storytelling track in true hip-hop fashion. I really dig it, and Elohin masterfully makes a somewhat mundane experience attention-holding and engaging, eventually leading up to a very meaningful encounter with an old acquaintance of his.
Mad at Me
“I told them I was different, but then I had to prove it.”
The last line of “Road Blocks” leads right in to “Mad at Me.” The track begins with a sung hook that I can really get into and continues into a steady hip-hop vibe. With a catchy chorus, groovy lyricism, and a feel-good beat, this song has everything needed to be a hit. 100% a song I would drive to.
New Era (Freestyle)
Comin’ in hot with the metaphors over a simplistic yet engaging beat that’s full of well-chosen samples, Elohin spits some stream of consciousness bars on a track that makes me want to sit back, relax, and just enjoy myself.
Rap 2 You
“I rap hard, you hardly rap”
On “Rap 2 You,” Elohin breaks down his philosophy of music, both in style and content. The rapper provides a manifesto of his work, giving examples of topics he’s passionate about and covers in his music, telling listeners, “I rap to you like you’re ridin’ to some trap music. But it’s that boom bap, let your soul clap music. That raw and that uncut kinda rap music.” And Elohin doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk as well – in this song as well as in the mixtape as a whole.
Good Times (It’s Alright 2)
A lot of the songs on this album make me feel good, probably because of Elohin’s upbeat tone and my personal affinity for the style he embraces. But if you’re looking for an honest-to-goodness feel-good song, look no further than “Good Times (It’s Alright 2).” The artist encourages listeners to “have a good time” and reflects on the way he interacts with those that mean a lot to him.
I Am Hip Hop
Elohin pays tribute to some of the greatest artists and moments in hip-hop with shoutouts ranging from Jackie Hill Perry and Lecrae to Kanye and The Roots. The rapper hits on many persons and projects that have undoubtedly had important effects on the culture. Elohin continues to show us what he believes hip-hop is and should be.
“I am hip-hop till I’m laying in my casket.”
Boom Bap Cypher (feat. Jess Aleakatino, Speez, Izayah Fisher, Corey Breeze, & Sean Preston)
Two of the most hip-hop-y elements of hip-hop come together, boom bap and cyphers, as Elohin recruits five fellow artists for a “Boom Bap Cypher” and the perfect end to Boom Bap Soul. Each emcee kills their verse and the track really gets the best of both worlds with the quality of a recorded track while still having the laid-back feel of an almost spontaneous moment.
Boom Bap Soul was a very enjoyable project to listen to, not just as a collection of songs but as a cohesive project.
The unifying theme throughout was a big plus. As sustained concepts in albums are seemingly becoming fewer and farther between, Elohin works a lot of fantastic metaphors into his verses, although every once in a while there was one that didn’t quite land.
One of the biggest positive attributes of the project was that the artist’s heart for what he says really came through in an almost tangible way. If I had one critique, it would be that I think Elohin could probably tighten up some of his flows on a few spots. Definitely would recommend this album to any listener who enjoys good boom bap!
My favorite tracks:
1. Rap 2 You
2. Boom Bap Cypher
3. Road Blocks