As far as back story’s go, Maino’s definitely is one of the most interesting from a new rapper since 50 Cent. Jailed for kidnapping at the age of 16 and locked up for 10 years, he’s got the credentials most gangsta rappers could only dream of. So upon entering the rap game, it’d almost be a no-brainer to fabricate a caricature and get by on his rep alone. Thankfully, he took a more cerebral approach and chose to elaborate on the path he took at the proverbial fork in the road. Although the future is something most people take for granted on a daily basis, it’s all Maino had to hang his hopes and dreams on as he presents his debut album If Tomorrow Comes…
Even though he hails from Kings County, Maino isn’t going to wow you with his lyrical dexterity. But for what he lacks in constructing mind-blowing metaphors and punch lines, he more than makes up for in terms of song structure and effectively getting his point across. On “Back To Life,” featuring Pusha! Montana he narrates the euphoric experience of being released from a bid. Backed by redemptive sounds of a Sunday morning service, he depicts the first encounters with a partner in crime, bottom chick and parole officer. The theme of redemption continues throughout the album as he’s tugged by both the trappings of the streets and the promise that obtaining a recording contract holds in turning his life around.
The hard-hitting “Gangsta” finds the tatted soldier answering the call of the streets alongside B.G. Backed by the voice of oft-sampled Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Maino effectively justifies his thug. While never glorifying the street life, it’s quite obvious he still identifies strongly with the lifestyle. And by the effervescent sounds of “Hood Love” he shows the sentiment is mutual between him and the hood. “Remember My Name” shows his desire to leave it all behind and create a lasting presence long after he’s gone. Come hell or high water, it’s music or bust as Maino pushes all his chips to the middle of the table.
While last summer’s ubiquitous hit “Hi Hater” became an anthem for flaunting in the face of detractors, the effusive contempt of “Kill You” better illustrates the frustration when those closest to you demonstrate a total lack of faith in your ambitions. The triumphant elation of “All The Above” when Maino taps into his core only helps to heighten the internal deliberation of songs like “Runaway Slave” & “Floating” when doubt begins to creep in. The latter shows how the isolation the dogged pursuit of a singular goal can break one down when the output doesn’t correlate to what’s being put into it.
The entire album is sequenced in a way that it tells Maino’s story from the time he’s released to the point when he’s offered a deal. Playing the narrator, he details both the highs and lows of his path. With this being his story, Maino keeps the features mainly to a minimum as he handles a bulk of the rapping his self. This results in the listener gaining a complete portrait of who he is. He maintains a creative vision throughout and rarely strides off the path. “Let’s Make A Movie” is one such instance, when the obvious song catered to the females is inserted. While it doesn’t have anything to necessarily do with his journey, it’s inserted in the right spot so the story can continue on it’s natural course. The closing number “Celebrate” clocks in at just under eleven minutes and a majority of the song just reveling in the moment à la Kanye West’s “Last Call.” If Tomorrow Comes… is a more than solid debut that blows a breath of fresh air into New York on a mainstream level. Now that tomorrow has indeed come, it’s up to Maino to determine where he’s going to take us next.
Previously Posted — TSS Presents Fifteen Minutes With Maino