Review: Mach-Hommy, ‘Balens Cho’

Hip-hop’s most mysterious figure returns with another offering, providing social commentary surrounding his home of Haiti.

Not even a year has passed since the release of Mach-Hommy’s Pray For Haiti and the underground’s mystery emcee has released another introspective piece centered around his Haitian roots. From wearing the country’s flag in the form of a bandana to spitting entire verses in Creole, Mach is passionate about representing his country and continues his efforts to raise awareness (or financial support) towards his country’s crippling state on his latest release, Balens Cho.

Balens Cho is an intricate adaptation of Haitian culture mixed into dusty hip-hop drums over regionally poignant samples.

Mach’s Balens Cho undertakes a 24 minute run time, squeezing in thirteen individual tracks: eight songs and five interludes. The project opens up with a short audio clip of an American businessman discussing imperialistic interest in Haitian products, then flows right into the first song “LABOU,” a horn-heavy produced track of Mach talking about his come up with an enticing chorus: (“I got it out the mud, swear to God”). From there the project is smooth sailing, only taking time in between tracks to lay more accessory audio clip interludes.

As always, Mach’s pen is sharp and tight, leaving no rooms for filler throughout the eight tracks provided. His approach to lyricism remains the same as Balens Cho hits a steady balance of introspective lines compacted into witty rhymes.

This is well displayed on the immersive cut, “SEPARATION OF THE SHEEP AND THE GOATS”, where Mach spits the lines: (“All the stones on my neck invisibly set / y’all visibly upset, artists / civil unrest, I’m physically destressed / call it how it is, not politically correct / say it with my chest / three words: liberty or death”). As displayed, Mach keeps his rhyme schemes very compact, which serves the project’s forgiving runtime very well.

Mach’s approach to production is always unconventional, reaching outside of the norm for each project’s sound. Balens Cho takes on an old-school approach to production with an updated touch to instrumentals. The instrumentation is diverse in choice as songs like “LABOU” & “TRADITIONAL” are filled with boisterous horns while “WOODEN NICKELS” & “SELF LUH” contain mellow piano chords for their emotional themes. With beats laid by the names of Nicholas Craven & Conductor Williams, Mach utilizes this production to construct an adhesive tracklist with a consistent flow, making for an untroubled listen.

While the main topics consists of uplifting Haiti’s values and highlighting the country’s strengths, but one of the underlying themes snuck in here is the importance of knowing your self-worth. Mach has spent the last few years investing time and resources into creating programs for the children in Haiti to apply their potential because he understands the lengths his people could reach if given these opportunities. This concept is laid out through the track list and wrapped up in the project’s outro, “SELF LUH,” but through an individual perspective, where Mach shares gems like noticing your self-worth and taking care of your body, physically and mentally.

With two project release within the same year, its difficult to not make the comparison between both offerings. Where Pray For Haiti leaves off on, Balens Cho manages to pick up from that point and deliver a similar message but in a different format. Both joints are influenced by the Haitian culture that Mach grew up in, but display two sides of the same coin as Pray For Haiti expresses the corrupt systems meant to tear the country down while Balens Cho works on building up the value of its people. Balens Cho serves almost as an extension to Pray For Haiti, but highlights more positive values rather than calling out the antagonistic systems that suppress the people.

Altogether, Mach’s Balens Cho is an exquisite listen consisting of valuable gems over an exotic soundtrack of beats. Over the years, Mach-Hommy has maintained his mysterious underground image while still growing as an artist and expanding his fanbase. While the music may not be all accessible, Balens Cho manages to stand out as a more approachable project without sacrificing his overall vision.

8 / 10

Best tracks: “SELF LUH”, “SEPARATION OF THE SHEEP AND THE GOATS”, “LABOU”, “WOODEN NICKELS”

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