Matty J, Tekst, and IB of The Higher Concept [THC] might be the hardest working emcees in New York City, consistently pumping out songs, albums, and mixtapes at a pace that would impress Lil Wayne. Hence it was fitting when THC released 4 videos in anticipation of their newest record ~ EVERYBODY. I could already tell this was going to be the biggest sound of any of their projects to date. The album delivered.
EVERYBODY is a testament to its name: the songs are packed full of collaborations with NYC’s hottest young musicians & producers. It can be easy to get lost on a disc with too many featured guests, but THC cuts through the symphony with flawless production, creative lyrical flows, and a subtle (yet easy-to-understand) unifying message. Their current sound reflects indie rock and live band influences, neatly packaged by a radio-ready bounce and shimmer. The tracklist plays like a party mix, consistently crammed with feel good anthems and fresh electronic beats.
The title track starts the album perfectly (feat. Deshawn Chalant & AC, prod. by Mike Cash), and quickly flows into ‘Everything is Everything’ feat. D1 (check the video below) and ‘Changes’ feat. Matt Beilis (this talented singer/pianist appears twice, & his powerful voice instantly crosses several genres for THC). The next three songs highlight a trio of unique female vocalists: Missy Modell on ‘Runnin Away,’ JoyLuv on ‘When Its Over,’ and Christina LaRocca on ‘Smile.’ Each of these songs is very different, but all contain top-shelf beats and super catchy choruses.
Next, singer/producer Jon Muro steps out from behind the scenes with the jaw-dropping emotional banger ‘Raindrop,’ easily one of the best tracks on the entire album. That’s followed by ‘Hittin the Road,’ an introspective journey from the emcees punctuated by an unexpected, beautiful solo by cellist Sam Oh. Two Mike Cash-produced singles ‘Topanga’ and ‘American Way’ keep the energy high; both songs are strong enough to lead off the album, which is definitely why they were released in the first wave of music videos.
‘Up to Me’ is an infectiously positive jam that features frequent collaborator Doug Atkins on guitar/vocals (he also duets with JoyLuv on ‘When Its Over’). The next track is ‘Toast to Life,’ which showcases the versatility of producer J.Glaze, and is quite possibly the funnest song on the album. Beilis returns on ‘They Used to Say’ – the beat is a chop of one of his piano riffs and the verses are executed perfectly. Do not skip this track.
‘This is For’ is the coolest surprise, the right kind of song to be tucked away near the end of a record. It’s refreshingly different from the others, and comes at the perfect time to deliver the headiest, most crystallized strain of THC’s universal message. ‘This is For’ features a full roster of friends and contributors: saxophone by Marcus Anderson; vocals by LaRocca, Muro, & Atkins; and a tasty trumpet solo by J.Glaze, whose evolving production skills have defined the group’s sound for years. The bonus track ‘They Don’t Like Us’ concludes the sonic boom with the biggest beat yet, a sizzling trunk-thumper with heavy dub influences.
EVERYBODY is a great Concept album (pun partially intended) that combines cutting-edge electronic and indie rock production with underground Hip Hop sensibilities. There is a long list of guest voices and instrumentalists that made this record so brilliant from start to finish, but ultimately it is the creation of three rappers and a crew of producers who have been paying their dues with long nights in the studio and an unstoppable will to succeed. As I finish this review, it’s the vibe of the second-to-last song ‘This is For’ that leaves the lasting impression: This is music made by everybody, and it can be enjoyed by anybody.