Pittsburgh hip-hop duo Grxwn Fxlks have shared their debut album, titled Volume 1: Independent. Consisting of emcee Masai Turner and producer Akil Esoon, the group's new LP is a confluence of positivity, social criticism, and wisdom earned through years of life experience. Featuring contributions from Raheem DeVaughn, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and more, the album puts a refreshing twist on classic East Coast hip-hop, with gritty, infectious production and sharply-crafted, thought-provoking rhymes.
Album opener and lead single "Celebrate" is definitive of their sound, with grooving, grimy percussion from Esoon and focused, razor-sharp verses from Turner. Containing meditative keys and addictive bass, the instrumentation creates a pensive tone, blending smoothly with Turner's commanding flows. The self-titled track "Grxwn Fxlks" follows next, featuring contributions from the legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff. Here, buttery scratching and ominous, expansive strings set the tone before Turner begins his verse, weaving together flexible, multi-syllabic rhyme patterns. The powerful, sonically raw "Say Their Names" is a poignant track, paying a heartfelt tribute to victims of police brutality and oppression due to racism in America. The group also shows versatility throughout the album, with "Magic" switching up the mood and sound, as they bring in Raheem DeVaughn for a smooth, warm, R&B-laced cut. Airy guitars and an organic-sounding rhythm section create an infectious groove for the song's glowing, melodic chorus and refreshing rap verses. Finally, the project closes with "One", featuring Nikki Jean, which introduces elegant grand pianos and triumphant horns that drift atop addictive, driving percussion and rich bass. Grxwn Fxlks and Jean deliver evocative, sharply-crafted vocals that suit the uplifting production, making for an emotive and poignant ending to the album.
The latest from Pittsburgh's Grxwn Fxlks, Volume 1: Independent makes for a soulful, enlivening listen that puts a modern twist on classic hip-hop stylings, featuring focused, thoughtful lyricism and vital, textural production.