Rap is no longer strictly about an individual’s lyrical ability, there is a medley of drums and melodies that need to come together in perfect harmony to create the sonic excellence that fans demand to hear. Extra satisfaction comes with a cohesive overarching narrative, cinematic atmospheres and palpable emotional vibes. These are all elements that can be found on the album, “GEN OF PAIN: Story of Sticks and Stones” by ZEEish, is a rapper out the Midwest. A concept-styled project, the album centers on the after break-up struggles and traumas the narrator has had to endure on the road to emotional recovery.
The aforementioned album is a follow-up to “GEN OF DREAMS: Story of Love and Lose”, which traced the falling apart of a relationship, due to incompatible dreams and disparate ambitions. It zoomed in on the eternal battle of choosing between love and a career. Emotion has long been an integral component of rap music, but it often takes on familiar and endlessly recycled forms. These two albums show that few current rappers have pushed the genre’s emotional boundaries with as much fearless conviction as ZEEish.
From the moment “GEN OF PAIN: Story of Sticks and Stones” kicks off with the chilled sound of “Bore…”. ZEEish’s hyper-literate lyrics delve headfirst into the messy emotional terrain where love and hate merge and become indistinguishable. An emotional tightrope walker of sorts, ZEEish explores his weaknesses and anxieties with sharp wit and lacerating self-deprecation.
Rather than transforming his feelings into rage or violence, ZEEish stares down his experiences with intimacy and candor on “Retrograding?” ft. Lil Burpy. “Painz!” ft. Raven is wrapped up in twisting introspective rhymes and soulful hooks, which makes it one of the catchier tracks here.
The real pulse behind ZEEish rhymes, the element that gives the album its real heart, is the production. Resonant and atmospheric, the beats echo the narratives to great effect. Drums and guitar partner up on “Lightning Boltz” to add powerful mood that complements the lyrics.
“Izolation” and “Left Me” run even deeper than it seems on the surface. ZEEish starts to focus on his darker side, while his thoughts of self-destruction is smothered in a haze of smoke. The need for weed and substances grow stronger on “Zeven” and “Drugz”, as ZEEish’s raps put forth feelings that strike a genuine chord.
It’s these moments that show how art can get at the complexities and contradictions of what it means to be afflicted. “Everything I do!” dials up the vibe a notch, with angular guitar motifs embellishing the beat. While many other artists produce abstract fantasies, ZEEish plays an autobiographical angle affectingly well in his songs.
“Make way!” ft. RHY brings a wave of intoxicating melody, before “Gamez” delivers one of the most ominous and resonating tracks on the album. “Oddz” ft. Young Intellect & Raven closes the album on an extremely high musical note. The male-female vocal combination, and the intense rhyme schemes can definitely be seen as a breath of fresh air.
Writing “GEN OF PAIN: Story of Sticks and Stones” must have been, on some level, necessarily a cathartic experience for ZEEish. Few of his contemporaries can come close to his intricacy, dynamism and honesty with his lyrics.
ZEEish, as an emcee, also has very unique flows that are above and beyond the monotone squeals of many of those contemporaries, and it makes for very enticing listening throughout. It’s almost certain that “GEN OF PAIN: Story of Sticks and Stones”, will have a lasting impression on whoever listens to it.
OFFICIAL LINKS: Instagram @king.zeeish – YouTube: ZEEish – Soundcloud: ZEEish – Twitter: @kingzeeish1