GQ – Death Threats And Love Notes: The Prelude | Album Review

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The latest emcee to emerge from 9th Wonder’s Jamla Records roster, former NCAA baller GQ sounds as if he’s going to be setting off with some serious offence if the lyrical talents displayed on Death Threats and Love Notes: The Prequel are anything to go by. Preceding the final version of his Death Threats and Love Notes series [the second volume should drop later this year], everything from the project’s title, lyrical content and cover artwork [depicting Eldridge Cleaver and his wife] has been carefully selected to give listeners a better understanding of the California rhymer’s subject intricacies.

Some of the album’s finest moments comes as soon as the play button is pressed. Simplicity is key with opening cut “Repetition,” as lyricism is all that’s on the menu with this; with GQ rhyming like his life depends on it over a lightly salted instrumental with the odd drum interruption. “Liars like how he just create the truth like Geppetto/ My mind is a cave and the booth is my echo”“I’m talking so high I gotta skydive just to stoop to your level.”

Producing just three of the 13 tracks on Death Threats and Love Notes: The Prequel, 9th Wonder’s minimal instrumental input is priceless when it does in fact hit. While the album’s lead single “The Town” is an obvious banger, project closer “World Turns” is where both 9th and GQ shine best. The track’s atmospherically spacious backdrop is the perfect remedy to the sick rhymes dropped all over it; telling a thought provoking story of a good kid caught up in greed, with plenty of rewind value to boot.

The rest of the album’s production is handled by various members of 9th Wonder’s beat team, the Soul Council. Delicately faded horns and reoccurring switching string pitches on the Eric G.-crafted “Amazing” create a soulful backdrop for GQ’s romantic feelings; “She’s like a drug to me, I feel amazing.” There are rare occasions where GQ’s informative subject matters and straightforward wordplay are lost on the listener. “Around The World” is an example of this; with too much going on, the beat has too many layers which in turn doesn’t allow the song’s lyrics to shine through.

Listeners will find GQ at his best when spitting solid punchlines and reality check moments over a mellow mid-tempo number, like on the cuts “Last Breath,” “I Know” [featuring Rapsody and Rocki Evans] and “Too High.” The latter of three originally featured on the emcee’s Trouble Man mixtape but still sounds fresh; produced by Sinopsis, the combination of airy bell-inspired moments and Dazz Band’s “Gamble With My Love” sample make for one hell of a hip-hop record.

Death Threats and Love Notes: The Prequel sets the scene for a quality emcee on the rise, as GQ infiltrates the game with his non-compromising bars and storytelling honesty.

GQ – Death Threats and Love Notes: The Prelude
Label: Jamla Records / GQ Music
Released: March 26, 2013
Buy: iTunes

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