Disclaimer: All views presented in this review are those of the reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O.
Out of sight, out of mind. This is a saying that could describe my life up to this point. If it’s not in the here and now with me, then it’s forgotten. If most people were honest, they would admit to the same struggle. Even in this technology driven age, where we have access to pretty much anything or anyone around the world at any given time, we still loose sight of the things that aren’t physically present with us in the moment.
This idea is especially present with music. How many times have you been scrolling through your iTunes or a friend’s iPod and scrolled across a record that you completely forgot about? It happens to me all the time. It’s not just bad albums that fall prey to our memories. Good albums go forgotten, great albums get forgotten, and sometimes even artists are forgotten.
S.O. is one of the most consistent artists that CHH has. When his career started in 2010 he gave fans a new record each year through 2012. Throughout that time frame, S.O. grew a strong fanbase and an even stronger reputation for excellence. By the time his critically acclaimed debut retail album So It Continues released, S.O. was widely considered one of the brightest up and coming stars in all of the genre. But it has been almost three full years since we’ve really heard anything from him. That’s a long time for an artist to be silent. It’s unfortunate, but out of sight, out of mind. The release of S.O.’s newest album So It Ends on October 16 was a bit of a surprise. It was definitely a pleasant surprise because it’s great to have S.O. back.
A lot can change in three years. The landscape of the genre was much different when S.O. released his debut, so the question with this album is, will it put S.O. back on his way to the top of the genre? Will this record live up to the hype and the long awaited anticipation? Or was he gone for too long?
After a three year hiatus, fans are going to have two main questions: Where have you been? And what will this new record sound like? The latter of the two questions is the more relevant of the two. Sound changes a lot over time and in three years, an artist can have a completely different sound. For S.O. and So It Ends, that’s not really the case. The sound of this record is about the same sound you would expect from S.O.. He is a wonderfully consistent artist and has been his whole career, so it is no surprise that So It Ends sounds much like the music S.O. has put out in the past.
Throughout all of S.O.’s discography he has been very smart with his production. S.O. has a very smooth style that fits well with good boom bap production. That is the main route the production of So It Ends takes. There are samples and heavy melodies that run throughout the record as well. This is a traditional northeast, backpack sounding record, which is right up S.O.’s alley and suits him well.
However, the production wasn’t all that great on So It Ends. The mix wasn’t very strong on the record so it didn’t sound very clean or crisp. Also, there wasn’t anything overwhelming about the production in general. Most of the beats were good and fit S.O. and what he was trying to do just fine, but there aren’t any songs that blow you away with its production. That hurts its playback value because there are no beats that you just have to go back and listen to. Overall, the production was good. Not bad or great (a little underwhelming maybe), but just good.
There is one thing that I’m sure no one has forgot about during S.O.’s hiatus and that is his lyricism. S.O. is a great lyricist and has been one of the best lyricists in CHH. Coming into this record, great lyricism is the one thing you can bank on and S.O. did not disappoint. There is very strong lyricism from start to finish on this album, as S.O. provides a smooth and effortless flow throughout this record.
About 30-seconds into the self-titled intro track and long time fans of CHH were reminded of how great S.O. really can be. His strong lyrical performance carried on throughout the record. His best lyrical performances were on the intro, “Walk in the Son III” and “London Dreams”, as S.O. gave some great Christ-centered bars. This wasn’t what the whole album was about though. There is some real introspection and transparency on So It Ends.
If fans were wondering where S.O. has been for the past three years, that question will be answered thoroughly by the end of the record. S.O. has been through a lot recently and he was very open about that on this record. A lot of listeners will connect with “Where Do We Go From Here” and “Give it to God”, as S.O. dives into his failed engagement and other failed relationships of his. Even if you can’t connect with the former, we can all relate to the latter. This was the emotional core of the record and one of the strongest moments of the whole record. These tracks also give the record some much-needed depth.
As great of a lyricist as S.O. is, that greatness isn’t always heard on So It Ends. This area of the record suffers from a similar problem as the production. There was no real memorable lyrical moment throughout the whole record. It was consistently solid but there was nothing that makes you want to come back to the record. It was just good. There is nothing wrong with good and it definitely wasn’t bad, however, this record needs a great moment and unfortunately there weren’t any of those.
As a basketball fan, there is a comparison that comes to mind when I think of this record; the Memphis Grizzles. For the past few years the Grizzles have had a lot of (well deserved) hype surrounding them. There are high expectations and this overall feeling that something great will happen. So It Ends had high expectations and some hype around it, but it didn’t really meet those expectations.
The Memphis Grizzles aren’t a flashy team. They are more of a gritty, hardworking and consistent team. You know exactly what you will get from a Grizzles game and after the season, there isn’t too much that you’ll remember from the Grizzles season. So It Ends didn’t have a lot of flash to it. There weren’t many major features or outstanding singles. The record was what it was – good CHH record with some good songs and introspective moments. But there wasn’t much that was memorable about So It Ends.