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ALBUM REVIEW
Marley B and DJ Hoppa – Monsoon Season

As one of the darlings of the Tucson Hip Hop scene, Marley B has been an interesting artist to watch develop over the last 5 years. From the early mixtape release, Raising Arizona, to his well-received, introspective debut album, GROW, the young upstart of an artist has managed to show vast improvement with every project he manifests. His efforts during that time have garnered the attention from underground legends like Murs, to Nerdcore kings MegaRan. It is clear that Marley has something special to share with the world. His latest endeavor, Monsoon Season, has him teaming up with former Funk Volume member, DJ Hoppa. As a result, Marley manages to deliver a strong project that continues to show the strides the emcee is making with his artistry.

Cover art by Marcoso Oliva

While Marley’s last effort, GROW, clocked in at over an hour with 15 tracks, Monsoon Season acts as shorter project. Entirely produced by DJ Hoppa, the EP manages to take wide range of themes that Marley presented on GROW and converts them into a much more direct channel into the mind of the rising Tucson artist. Songs like “God’s Watch” show that Marley has expanded his range of topics providing compelling multiple perspectives and insight on the travesties of war. “DRUGS” focuses on Marley’s battle with the lure of psychedelics as his apologies to his mother for his usage over DJ Hoppa’s eerie, ethereal production.

The production of the entire project resides in a darker realm as Hoppa creates a mesmerizing soundscape for Marley to ride over. The syncopated drums and airy chords of songs like “Let It Go” and “Inner Struggle” act as a perfect backdrop for Marley to expand on his mental struggles and the hardships of his personal life as well as the progression of his career. “Inner Struggles” almost acts as an entry in his personal journal as he exposes the doubts and fears that he faces as a white underground rapper. The song also touches on issues like depression and the father he never met.  “Run” showcases a slightly angrier version of Marley as he calls out doubters and naysayers that have place doubt on his success.

It would seem that Monsoon Season has introduced a darker side of Marley B. This is not to say that songs like GROW’s “Wild for the Likes” and “Smoke Break” are behind him, but it is clear that the young emcee is streamlining the message that he want to convey to his growing fan base. As a result, we are given one of the most direct and topical projects of Marley’s career thus far. Fans of a younger, more energetic Marley might not resonate with this album as much as with his previous projects — this project clearly presents a dark, introspective theme. It should be interesting to see if this continues as Marley inevitably rises through the ranks of national hip hop scene and blossoms into the true star that he was meant to be.

Overall: Topical and poignant, Marley manages to deliver some of the most direct and introspective songs of his career while forgoing the high energy songs from previous efforts.

 

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Jaron Ikner

Jaron Ikner aka Black One is a future Multi-Media legend and was once a magician in a previous life.