In an area with such a wide range of musical talent and acumen as Lowell, the city’s underground hip-hop scene cannot be overlooked. Over the year’s it’s grown in leaps and bounds to incorporate a large swath of sounds and styles, and inevitable collaboration. One such pairing, between Mill Side Worldwide-affiliated artists Chi Tashi and SoloArtist, seems almost too obvious on paper. Both are incredibly prolific and gifted rappers with a knack for lyrical deftness and cleverness, impeccably smooth flow, and an uncanny ability to cover a wide range of subject matter. The duo already showed off what they were capable of with their 2019 single “Just Fine”. The only question remaining is how it’s taken this long for there to be a full-length follow-up?
Now in 2021 that wait has ended with the release of Invictus, a potent showcase of rap talent and craftsmanship, one that surely represents a turning point in both Mill Side artists’ discography. SoloArtist and Chi Tashi sound at the top of their games as ever of course, but the added layer of collaboration between the two only serves to heighten their lyrical swiftness and rhythmic skills. Further assisting the duo is the album’s staple of booming beats from indie producers such as Doughboy Productions and Nofugzai Beats, who seem to have been picked especially for their ability to craft a stark-yet-etheral atmosphere to juxtapose Chi Tashi’s charming bombast, and SoloArtist’s bleak optimism.
At nearly 25 minutes in length, Invictus is a short affair, but no further amount of time is required of the artists; in less than a half-hour SoloArtist and Chi Tashi bring the listener on wide ranging peaks and valleys of moods and emotions quicker than many acts could do in twice the length. It’s at various moments filled with uncertainty, anxiety, and insular malaise, while also remaining zealously celebratory, filled with boundless fervor, and desire for something greater. Even its darker moments are tempered with excitement over life’s endless potential in the face of overwhelming odds and adversity.
FFO: Mill Side Worldwide, Moe Pope, Drake, Lupe Fiasco