Written by Tim Sandler
Seven years ago, the hip hop mainstream was introduced to the elusive Atlanta-based rapper and GOOD music signee CyHi the Prynce, via a now iconic verse on Kanye’s So Appalled, a song on the even more iconic album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. To be introduced to the rap scene in such a monumental way, it’s no surprise fans everywhere were hotly anticipating his first release but little did they know they were in for a long wait. However, after seven years of delays and false starts, CyHi has finally delivered and make no mistake, CyHi does himself justice (Jay Electronica take notes).
What CyHi primes himself to do on his debut No Dope on Sundays, is not dissimilar to what he did on So Appalled and in the various other singles and features that proceeded it. CyHi is a rapper’s rapper, a rapper that above all else values flow, wordplay and lyricism in an era of mumbling and ad libs, and so this album is truly a breath of fresh air for traditional hip hop fans. The album is 15 tracks of hard bar-laced bangers about his life on the streets as a drug dealer and soft, introspective tracks in equal measure. The feature billing proves equally eclectic, ranging from familiar GOOD music faces like Pusha T and Kanye to throwbacks with the likes of R&B group Jagged Edge and Estelle. Every feature plays a part and stands to lift up the project.
However, being the hip hop purist CyHi is in staying true to its roots and trying to set himself aside from the new wave is also what turns into the album’s only glaring flaw. While new wave rappers are increasingly choosing to tailor bangers that usually last no longer than 2 minutes, for example Lil Pump’s debut that clocks in with 15 tracks and 36 minutes, CyHi’s has the same number of tracks but is an hour and 13 minutes. While the production quality and lyricism means that each track is usually worthwhile, it does sometimes teeter into the realm of overstaying its welcome. Moreover, the two singles Movin Around and Dat Side are rather generic radio playouts. However, these flaws are minor in the context of what the album achieves.
The first three tracks in Amen, No Dope On Sundays, and Get Yo Money is arguably the best three track chain in any hip hop album this year and puts the album to a scintillating start. The production is both rattling and heavy and yet also soulful and grand, backed by gospel vocals that we’ve become familiar with through Kanye’s Life of Pablo. The particular standout being Get Yo Money, which has a bar of the year about every 30 seconds, as he keeps a cliché topic about hustling completely fresh, peppered with one liners such as, ‘My homies was crippin so hard, all they eat is seafood’. Another highlight is the sixth track Murda, a reggae/hip hop fusion reminiscent of Jay-Z’s Bam earlier this year.
While the album starts with gritty energy, the pace takes a more introspective tone toward the end of the album with tracks like Free, 80’s Baby and Don’t Know Why, showcasing his versatility as a rapper and authenticity.
No Dope on Sundays, while may not living up to a seven-year wait, is certainly still an album to celebrate, with stellar production, verses and features and no one would argue if you placed this album in the top 3 hip hop albums of 2017. It’s no surprise CyHi said that one of the reasons he hadn’t dropped his album sooner is because he was being kept around by Kanye and the gang to help behind the scenes for years, as it’s clear by hip hop standards he is at the top of the game. In fact, it’s been reported that Kanye is exclusively producing CyHi’s entire next album, let’s just hope it comes sooner than this one.