When it comes to hip hop, there are certain states that have their own, unique sound. For instance, the “dirty south” style of hip hop does not sound like Florida music. Florida is in the south but it sounds nothing like music from Atlanta.
Going to school at Florida A&M, I experienced this first hand. I stumbled upon a whole new genre of music. I called it South Florida music. It was full of high energy, fun, and it was intriguing. Once I got saved, I heard about some South Floridians doing music by the name of Rhema Soul. They came to do a concert in Tallahassee and brought a guy named Cheno Lyfe with them. At the time, he had just released his debut album Home. I really enjoyed his passion, energy and raw approach to the music.
Back then, Cheno Lyfe was trying to make a name for himself. Now, I think more people may know of his name. However, his latest album (released by Good City Music) Lunar may be their first experience with his music. “Is it worth purchasing?” “How’s the production?” “Does it sound anything like his free music?” These are questions that may be going through a new listener’s mind. In this album review, I hope to give insight on how Cheno Lyfe delivered.
The First Thing That Caught My Ear
I mentioned in the beginning that Florida music has a distinct sound. On Cheno Lyfe’s first album, I heard a lot of familiar FL energy. On this album, I was surprised by how diverse the album was. I found it to be refreshing, that every track did not sound the same. It didn’t sound like a mixtape, but each song sounded like it had its own purpose and individuality. I don’t usually run into many albums that have such musical diversity, yet still sound like a complete album.
Stand Out Track: “Stick Up”
The Second Thing That Caught My Ear
Along with the beats, I was thoroughly impressed by the production. I may be biased, but I feel that South Florida has some really talented producers. Some may not know this, but Gawvi, formerly known as G-Styles, started in South Florida as well. The way the sound panned in my headphones on some of the dub-step style tracks was wonderful. I like when production is so good that you can focus on the small details that make it more enjoyable.
Stand Out Track: “Cobang ft. Rhema Soul & Anthony Rose”
Cheno Lyfe has done a wonderful job getting people excited for this project by posting videos from the likes of Da’ T.R.U.T.H, DJ Wade-O, Social Club, Thi’sl, Json and many more discussing what ‘Lunar’ means to them.
I thought this was tremendously helpful to understand what he was trying to do. Lyfe also states it at the end of the intro track.
“Son is in me, I’m reflectin’ sorta like the moon does, welcome to Lunar.”
A title like Lunar, that communicates a message to be a light to the world, allows for a broad album. He speaks on not backing down, abortion, Christian community and more. The main idea of the album served as an adhesive connecting all the ideas under the same mission.
I think this was smart for people that do not know his music. He lets listeners see what he is capable of in many different ways.
Stand Out Track: “Wont Back Down Ft. Philip Bixby”
Cheno Lyfe is a good rapper. The funny thing is, I do not think I’ve ever focused on his wordplay, metaphors or allusions. He carries a presence on this album that captivates. I think the good production and diverse music help because he raps boldly for Christ and it’s catchy. He is not shy to talk about tough issues and he can talk about them in an appealing way. He mentions things that he has experienced in his life that make you understand he’s speaking strongly because he’s experienced the hurt. Not because he wants to condemn people. I think that is a special trait to have. Many people like to say Christian hip-hop is too “preachy.” His style has enough of both worlds to bridge the gap.
Stand Out Track: “My Life Ft. Giel”
This was a very enjoyable listen. There is tons of replay value. I was about to write out stand out tracks, until I realized I listed most of the tracks. His features did a great job. He allowed people on the album that are on their way up like SPZRKT. I love when an artist helps a fellow artist be seen.
Although I loved the diversity, some people may feel that this album was too diverse. Also, if you do not like the progressive sound of hip hop (the techno-ish sound) you may not like some tracks. That is a bit of the Florida sound, but I find it fun.
I think many people will enjoy this album and be pressing play on it for the rest of the summer.
You can get the album here!