Review: ‘Pray for Haiti’

After half a decade of tension and beef, rappers Mach-Hommy and Westside Gunn link up for the first time after their cold war to present a classic to the culture.

Ever since the infamous fallout of the original Griselda Records roster and Dump Gawds circa 2017, fans have been demanding that the two camps reconcile as the crew had potential to be better than what they had delivered in the past. Following various subtweets and side comments, fans were convinced that they would never see the two together in a room ever again, until the last few days of 2020 when Westside Gunn announced he would be making music with Dump Gawd crew again.

Following their reunion, Mach and West wasted no time getting to work almost immediately on what was the come out of their newly rekindled relationship. The end result of their work together was Pray for Haiti, which channels the same gritty, yet exotic nature present in each other’s music.

Pray for Haiti provides listeners a lengthy run of 16 tracks in 39 minutes and features some of Mach’s best work thus far. Lyrically, Mach has always been ahead of the curve compared to other emcees from this generation. His smooth yet aggressive style has always captivated listeners, but the only thing he lacked was a platform to display his strengths to the world. With the waves that Griselda Records has made in the mainstream combined with the reconciliation of the two underground titans, this was the perfect opportunity for Mach to bring his gritty style to the masses. Records such as “The 26th Letter” and “The Stellar Ray Theory” were perfectly crafted to uplift such a complex style to the masses without sacrificing the authenticity of the music.

Mach keeps the family close on this project, only containing features from Westside Gunn, Tha God Fahim & Keisha Plum. Being the mysterious figure that he is, there weren’t really any expectations for Mach to gather with another rapper and bar out. While West appears on three of the sixteen tracks himself (“Folie A Deux”, “Murder Czn” & “Rami”), his presence as curator of the album was felt heavily. His role as an executive to the album was taken very seriously as every aspect of this album was sharp and spot-on. From the beats to the transitions to the overall cohesion of the album, Westside Gunn did an incredible job adding that Griselda flavor to the mix, while letting Mach still do his thing all over the project.

From a lyrical standpoint, Pray for Haiti elevates Mach’s lyricism to the next level, proving that his run in hip-hop is far from finished. The project is filled with witty bars and lethal one-liners that give hip-hop heads the typical stank face. Some great examples of this stem from the tracks “No Blood No Sweat” where Mach raps (“Put this .38 into your mouth / Go ‘head and spit your magnum opus”) and “The Stellar Ray Theory” where he also spits the lines (“The sun could never be pussy, he know when to come out but some days he nowhere to be found”). Mach steps his lyrical game up another level on Pray for Haiti, displaying what could be perceived as a new level confidence.

The backbone of the production is handled by mainly underground producers such as Camouflage Monk, Conductor Williams & Nicholas Craven, just to name a few. This keeps the sound of the album authentic as the duo have major history coming up in the new underground scene and have always tapped in with other artists in the scene. The sound of the album is reminiscent of 2020’s Pray for Paris, which took the gritty underground sound and cleaned it up a bit, making it sound more luxurious but still containing that hardcore feeling. In a time where we see the Griselda crew branch off of the dusty boom bap sound, this project helps keep the brand connected to the movement to show that their heart still lies within the authenticity of the genre.

While Mach’s lyrical word play all over the album was very serrated, one interesting line in particular raised a few eyebrows upon the first hours of the album. On the track “Magnum Band”, Mach spits the lines (“Picture n****s reaping the benefits off of Mach-Hommy hype / tryna see capital off of the steez like Johnny Shipes / I ain’t gon be the one flyin’ off a building”). This flips the unfortunate situation of Pro Era rapper and founder, Capital STEEZ who committed suicide by jumping off of a building. The interesting thing about an emcee like Mach is their lyrics are up for personal interpretation and how you perceive and digest the content. On one hand, it seems as if he’s poking fun at the late rapper’s situation while on the other hand, he’s bringing light to the label situation with Interscope Records that left the late rapper distressed. One can’t be too sure what the pure intention was as Mach is one mysterious rapper, but this raises the conversation of morality in hip-hop. Should we see rappers take those risky gaps to get their point across or should they be hesitant towards what they can say on the mic.

For having such a short run time with a hefty amount of tracks, Pray for Haiti remains sonically focused from beginning to end, leaving no time for filler tracks or wack bars. Not one blemish is found throughout the 39 minute project as Mach and West did an amazing job keeping everything sharp without any excess assistance. While the album could benefit from a feature verse or two from someone outside of the crew, Mach’s solo performances were phenomenal. The jazzy yet grimy sound provided the perfect base for Mach’s smooth rhyme schemes.

From the moment that Mach-Hommy and Westside Gunn linked back together again, fans were optimistic of how the two would sound on record again. Needless to say, Mach and West provided a marvelous body of work that perfectly displays Mach-Hommy to the world. From the title displaying his Haitian roots to the records properly capturing Mach’s eccentric style, Pray for Haiti is a perfect representation of Mach-Hommy as an artist. A listen is definitely recommended as 20% of proceeds from the album will go to the Pray For Haiti Trust Fund.

9 / 10

Best tracks: “Au Revoir”, “The Stellar Ray Theory”, “Makrel Jaxson”, “No Blood No Sweat”, “Rami”, “Marie”

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