I met ScienZe at the Bowery Poetry Café, here in New York, almost two years ago. A friend of mine introduced us and thought it would be good for me to hear his music, buzzing about how he was the “next this” and the “next that,” which normally would end up in me listening to some second-hand, second string emcee spewing more of the same elementary hubbub that’s become hip-hop’s new face. Next. But after talking to the young Brooklynite for a few minutes, he told me the name of his first project, a mixtape entitled, Ode 2 Dilla, and, of course, that got my attention.
Long story short, I was on. I loved the mixtape, and wrote a review, praising what I found to be something fresh and exciting, for a change. Since then I’ve been following him, watching as he’s released several mixtapes since then, a slew of videos, and has carved quite a niche for himself on the planet of Brooklyn, everyone praising his potential but waiting to see what kind of complete album he would create.
The wait is over. ScienZe has dropped his first complete, full-length project, When Skies Fall, and let me say it is nothing short of a tour de force. It’s truly an amalgam of all of his previous work, including obvious influences from the late Dilla. He’s figured out how to form an almost perfect blend of smooth, feel good hip-hop, something the ladies will love without having to make songs explicitly geared to the fairer sex, while leveraging it with bass lines, crisp snare drums, and effortful penmanship. And on top of all that, he has the Brooklyn thing, a moxy that can’t be taught or faked.
My favorite track, which actually highlights all of these elements, is “Over Drive.” The song is about physically riding with a loved one, perhaps up the West Side highway (which is what I imagine) as well as metaphorically “riding” to greater places, due to the ability to be an originator instead of another bandwagon fare. The chorus, sung by Anetta Roze’ is droning, catchy, and complimentary without turning the song to corn. The incredible bass line and flow on the song will have hip-hop heads locked, and the hook will have the ladies singing, arms flailing in the air (out of convertible.) It all works.
ScienZe also has some straight up rap songs on When Skies Fall as well. One of the hardest tracks on the album is, “Song Amnesia,” featuring the slightly “above ground but still kind of underground,” Asher Roth. This is a snare heavy track, complete with moments of distortion and synth, where ScienZe and Roth spit lyrics revolving around how people often forget how “nice” they really are on the mic, and how hard they’ve worked to win. Just a dope song, through and through. No frills. No sing-song hooks. No extras. Just a hard track, two emcees, two verses, raw. Never gets old.
What to expect from When Skies Fall: Well written, super-precise, thoughtful lyricism, over beats reminiscent of 1999 and 2000, when there was more bass guitar than 808 bass, sharp, snappy snare drums, feel-good choruses, amazing features, and a strong sense that whoever this ScienZe dude is, he’s come to stay for a while. When Skies Fall, is simply a statement from a young emcee saying, the sky is nowhere near the limit.
- Jason Reynolds