Calling the album, “Brutal Honesty” a classic, is a bold statement in today’s musical climate – in truth the new wave rap movement probably wouldn’t even be able to recognize a hip-hop classic anymore. The genre’s aesthetics have changed, the artist’s intrinsic values have evolved. However hip-hop’s core principles cannot be denied. The urge and will, to spread knowledge, tell stories, stimulate thought, and ignite emotions, still drives the bulk of the genre’s momentum. The notable difference is, some artists have a knack for only talking shit, while others are adept at communicating a wide range of messages that matter, and entertain at the same time. Black_Hart! Falls into this latter category.
“Brutal Honesty” is his fourth album, and his second commercial release. And as can be expected, from an album that sounds like it came straight out of hip-hop’s golden age, it’s all about Black_Hart!’s rhymes. His voice is unique and abrasively powerful. His eloquence and articulateness are almost unparalleled in the underground game. His rhyme-structuring is one of a kind compared to the slurring trappers, and his lyrical content is relevant and thought-provoking.
From the moment you jump into the driving opening track, “Sabbatical In Purgatory”, Black_Hart! is living proof that as long as artists stay true to themselves, they can make amazing music, regardless of their stylistic and sound choices. Unwavering authenticity continues to give Black_Hart! credibility, as spits his way through “Emperor’s New Closure”, on top of a buoyant and volatile beat.
The album keeps rolling along in strong fashion and the third track, “Woke”, slams even harder than the previous cut. Black_Hart! juxtaposes the rumbling of his thunderous delivery, against the melodic croon of Joey Crass. These variants give the track even more across-the-board appeal. “Yin Meets Yang” featuring Soulistic, sees Black_Hart! balance the equation between men and women, and elaborate on the importance of both, in a relationship and in life.
“Brutal Honesty” shows us the flipside of the coin, compared to the previous track, and opens with these words: “The most bravest thing a man can do, is be honest, cause most people can’t handle the truth. Just being brutally honest, girl you probably hate my fucking guts, but I had to cut you off to keep from hating you.” Black_Hart! is a master at timing the change in his flow, giving every beat drop a dramatic suspense where the listener knows a cutting punchline is coming up.
“Shoulders of Giants”, which features Soulistic, opens with a piano-driven intro, which evolves into a larger-than-life cinematic string ensemble, before the sticky beat kicks in. “King of Kings” is even more epic, sonically, as Black_Hart! unleashes his voice, building his raps with intensity. There isn’t one verse on the track that doesn’t sound like it came straight from his soul.
Black_Hart! does a fantastic job of combining his knowledge with his brilliant brand of rhyme on “Icarus Wings” featuring Raye Lit. “Angels” features well-known producer, writer, engineer and artist, Tone Jones.
The track is another expansive arrangement, allowing Black_Hart! to deliver some key pieces of afflicting emotions and insights, into the choice of life termination. The rapper’s rhymes warrant the listener’s full attention, as there are some serious lessons to be learned here.
“Fugitive Of Time” opens with the lines: “I still remember the first time I heard Wu-Tang…” Do I need to say more, about where Black_Hart! is coming from? Appreciating this music requires taking hip hop seriously and understanding what the artist is attempting to do.
The sound gets significantly better every listen, as you become more familiar with what Hip-hop was really meant to be. By the time the album closes with the radical drive of “Warrior’s Cloth”, it becomes clear that Black_Hart! has taken a step back to the genre’s roots, so that he can help bring the movement, and the culture, a few steps forward, in many ways.