When Elzhi comes up in a conversation, people tend to go back to his show-stealing bars on Little Brother’s “Hiding Places” from The Minstrel Show. Since that moment, fans have been clamoring for Elzhi to release a full-length solo LP to flex those spit-fire skills. Finally, Elzhi has released The Preface to hold them over.
Lyrically, Elzhi is just the mechanic people thought he was. Songs like “The Leak” and “Motown 25 (feat. Royce Da 5’9”) show the Detroit MC unleashing the same sort of barrage of metaphors and internal rhyme that made him so beloved. Both tracks are given the proper energetic backdrop for El to spit high-octane lines like: “perhaps my skill is real as G-Rap’s/ and feel as real as concealing drills in the kneecaps/ ya funny style gets 3 snaps in a circle.” “Brag Swag” is the pinnacle of this lyrical ferocity, as Elzhi continues his B-Boy posturing. Though these songs are short on substance, Elzhi’s awe-inspiring ability to rhyme every couple of syllables makes these songs the highlight of the album.
Unfortunately, Elzhi’s challenging rhyme schemes proves to be too difficult to maintain during more focused, themed songs. “Save Ya,” and “D.E.M.O.N.S.” are two songs in which Elzhi speaks on specific topics and his rhyme scheme becomes more reserved, leaning towards the more conventional monosyllabic rhyming at the end of each line. The production does little to remedy this tedium as Elzhi’s reliance mostly on Black Milk for the production provides little variation in sound throughout the whole album. Hopefully Elzhi will be able to refine his skill to be able to keep his insane flow while telling stories and speaking on topic.
The Preface does earn points for it’s more creative offerings. “Colors” and “Guessing Game” are novel ideas that will probably be copied in the future. It’s refreshing to see a new MC take these chances and execute them so capably. Elzhi, though, has little to no faith that his listener will be able to keep up as each of these boundary-pushing songs spend an inordinate amount of time explaining his gimmick to us. It becomes quite laborious to hear him spend 16 bars in between each verse to explain what’s going on.
Had Elzhi used his originality on actual song composition opposed to a lyrical showcase, The Preface would have increased it’s parameters quite a bit. Almost every song follows the three/16 bar verses with hooks formula. At 16 songs, this becomes tedious. The mostly mellow production does little to encourage Elzhi to launch into his high energy rhyming tirades. As Elzhi becomes more comfortable with his craft, more sonic changes are sure to come. Elzhi’s internal rhymes, metaphors and overall insane flow are the qualities that have spurned his fan base to look forward to this album. Those songs are available in spades. When Elzhi is able to apply this wordplay to his original concepts, he will truly be a force. The Preface serves as an adequate first chapter that makes listeners even more eager to get to the body of this young MC’s career.
Previously Posted – TSS Presents 15 Minutes With Elzhi