DON'T PLAY IT STRAIGHT: ALBUM REVIEW
Reviewing an ELUCID project after only a single day of listening is an impossible task. His lyrics take weeks to sink in and his rhyme schemes are built to throw your head into a frenzy. But this project is too good to sit on. It’s completely different from anything ELUCID has released before and gives a new perspective on his career. On Don’t Play it Straight, his newest collaboration with producer The Lasso, the instrumentals give him the space and freedom to push his sound to new limits.
This project has a heavy melodic influence with almost every single track featuring a guest singer. The singers Fielded and Kayan.a do the bulk of the singing on this project and perfectly complement The Lasso’s sound. The instrumentals are much looser than those on Armand Hammer or previous ELUCID projects, meaning that they give ELUCID’s vocals a bit more room to breathe.
The guest singers help reinforce this style, as their vocals have an airy quality which allows ELUCID to open up the tracks a bit more. He ducks in and out of the upbeat instrumentals, switching flows every other second. His vocals are crisp and staccato and this makes everything he says cut deeper. There are exceptions to this, like on the song, “Moses Was A Magician” where ELUCID’s vocals are incredibly distorted, but for the most part, this more open style of instrumental allows you to hear the smaller inflections that make his voice unique. You can tonally hear when he is angry, passionate, or playful.
I’ve always seen ELUCID as a speaker of truths, but Don’t play it Straight focuses on his confusion. ELUCID constantly finds himself not knowing the right direction to proceed and not knowing exactly what is true. At the same time, the project is a screed against liars. Even when ELUCID feels lost or does not know what to say, he still can tell what a lie looks like. On “Here Be Dragons,” a song about him losing his mind, he says “I be lying to myself… Sometimes I be saying shit that come true.” That idea of a lie coming true seems to drive him crazy. ELUCID talks about lying almost like it is a plague. On a later song, he says, “Some people don’t know how to be silent so they fill the room with lies.”
What I appreciate most about what ELUCID brings to the table is his ability to make complicated ideas seem so simple. For example, on the opening track, he says, “how many more solid cases for reparations?” A little bar like this pushes your mind in so many directions. It makes you think about the cases that have been made and question why more than a single case has to be made for something that seems so obvious. Each of ELUCID’s bars comes with a deep knowledge of history and literature, which adds a layer to everything he says.
"Sunchoke" is lyrically the sharpest song I’ve heard all year. Every single bar is quotable.
“Ight then Boom, the microphone is both a listener and a speaker.”
“Some people can’t stand silence so they fill the room with lies.”
The fact that those three bars appear within a minute of each other is ridiculous. ELUCID introduces completely new concepts to the listener like it’s nothing. Throughout every single bar on the project, ELUCID displays a knowledge and control of the form that I have rarely heard before.
This album is essential listening. ELUCID is built to do this.