Gentry Fox’s debut solo project “RARE DEMO SHIT (vol.1)” aka “RDSV1” was released independently on his label SUB|ROK RECORDS in August 2014 to critical acclaim, and since then the rapper, hip-hop recording artist, record producer, actor, director, designer, label executive, and visionary entrepreneur, has been scrupulously conceiving, recording and producing the follow-up. Five years later, we have the 16 tracks which make up “RARE DEMO SHIT (vol.2)” aka “RDSV2”. Described by the Wyoming rapper himself, as “a musical narrative about a small-town hip-hop artist and his journey of self-discovery through life, love, fear, and death,” this album is considered the official sequel and spiritual successor to his debut project.
Debut albums are always crucial. It’s a first impression that really shows what you are capable of. But then it’s the sophomore release which determines your overall status. It can make or break you, by confirming or denying your initial commitment.
Gentry Fox has already proven himself as a fantastic lyricist, and shown that his music can speak for itself without of having to rely on gimmicky sounds and weird features. And now he certifies that initial impact with “RDSV2”. One thing that is immediately noticeable when looking through this album is that there isn’t a single guest feature. An absolute rarity in the current scene, where features abound.
Gentry Fox shows how capable of holding down tracks he is. And when I say ‘holding down’, I don’t simply mean rapping. I mean, the lyrics, production, arrangement, mixing and mastering, as Fox does it all. Heck, he even handled the artwork and scratching. “RARE DEMO SHIT (vol.2)” is without a doubt one of the best solo albums in its genre we’ve seen in 2019.
Firstly because it’s a true solo album in every sense, and secondly because it’s so damn good. Every now and then someone special comes along. You find yourself a student of the craft that is working his education to do something undeniable. That someone is Gentry Fox.
It’s hard to keep up with quality artists when we’re fed so much filler, but the minute you press play on the opening track, “Resurgence”, you know you’re onto something great. Gentry Fox is a breath of fresh air in a redundant landscape dominated by one-trick ponies with auto-tuners.
His lyrical flow dominates, but so does his storytelling, as he paints picture after picture throughout this album. The cinematic opener is inspirational, heartwarming, as well as disturbing, perfectly encapsulating what to expect as listeners voyage through the album. And if that isn’t impressive enough, the gritty thump of “Affirmatory” should convince you.
The perfect blend of old school and new school, backpack and boom-bap, classy and raw, lyrical and catchy, the tracks on “RDSV2” explore new horizons while never straying from Fox’s roots. Almost everything he touches is perfectly well-rounded.
From kaleidoscopic banging standouts like “Assimilation” and “Absolution”, or slower nuanced cuts like “Otherground”, “Synesthesia” and “Sayonara”. However, it’s on the catchy mid-tempo numbers where Fox excels. In particular on “Solstice”, “Wanderlust”, “Valhalla” and “Destiny”. From start to finish, this album is strong, as each track continues the overall narrative.
As usual, Gentry Fox’s lyricism stands out right the way through as the Rock Springs native spits killer lines. It’s his voice, which anchors an already solid recording, and is crucial in getting the album up and running on all cylinders.
Throughout, Fox conveys lyrical prowess, raw storytelling chops, and poised technical skills. Furthermore, his charged instrumentals, balance the emotionally driven content. What more can you ask from an album in 2019?