Somber is the October release from RVA hip hop artist Yohannes. While I don’t think that it’s appropriate just yet to say RVA has a distinct hip hop sound, I think albums like Somber best capture what RVA artists are doing well with their sound. The sound, like Somber, has a vast range of tempos, styles, and rhyme flows all mixed into one project.

What Yohannes does really well is mix his rhyme flow and style with the production he selected for the album. Some people, even great MCs, have “questionable” selection when it comes to selecting the beats they rhyme over. Yohannes is the 90th percentile of RVA artists that I’ve come across when selecting songs that will work for him. Believe it or not, this is a skill, being a good artist is more than simply being able to rhyme bars over beats…Jay-Z said in his documentary “Fade to Black” it’s just as important to know when a song is “not” the one. Yohannes has demonstrated that he knows what his style is, what he does well, and what songs highlight that.

I’m most impressed with his up-tempo rhyme flow. He uses it perfectly on one of my favorite songs on the album “GDWS.” He does it again on another songs like, “Best Beginnings” and “Unconditional.” I wasn’t familiar with RonOilersMusic before this album, but I am now. Both RonOilersMusic and OmitoBeats leave a lasting imprint on the album.

A different type of flow but a song I like is “8-0” featuring Solomon Bullet. I like that Yohannes can switch it up if need to. Truth be told,  there are certain MCs that I love to see talk that talk…that pure hip hop talk “ballin or whatever”….I haven’t seen enough from Yohannes for me to excited to hear him be one of those guys…like when Drake or Childish talk that talk…I have trouble believing it…doesn’t mean they don’t do it well, I just have trouble with it. That is how I feel a bit when Yohannes goes there but. He’s not in that pocket all the time so…diversity is good for an album.

What I do believe and the song that I played over and over again was “Family Ties.” It’s a real song with an amazing beat and it just works. I understand you can’t do a song like that all the time – it’s an emotional song dedicated to his family –  but at the end of the day — I bet of all the songs that pop – “Family Ties” is what’s going to mean the most to Yohannes and a lot of his fans. It’s going to be one of those things like…when he does that at a live show – he’ll be surprised how many people rock with it – because they connect with it.  Now why he decided to put “Off the Court” on the same track is one of the biggest mysteries of this well constructed album. I like “Off the Court” but if I want to play someone “Family Ties” the last thing I want is to have to hear the panties dropping/magnum popping line that leads “Off the Court.” It should have just been two songs.

With that said, this is a solid album. Since I rate the entire project, I have to say that  the songs I like – I really like, the aforementioned “GDWS,” “Unconditional,” Family Ties,” “8-0,” I also really like “Walter White.” The songs I didn’t like — I was more indifferent than not feeling them – some of those songs just sounded the same to me; they didn’t stand out but that doesn’t mean they were bad songs.

I rate this album a solid 4 out of 5 mics. I know Yohannes has a really strong work ethic. I know he will bring even more heat in 2015. I think RVA artists should really mess with him.

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