Don Corleone comes through with a 15 track LP of hardcore gangsta rap that is lyrically rich about hustle, celebration, debauchery, and a bit of autobiography. His lyrical prowess wasn’t slowed down by the progressive hip hop sound and non-hip-hop genres he took on in the Project. In Don We Trust LP also looks at the ills in his personal life as well as the society, that shaped him – directly and indirectly – into the Made Man he has become today. He brings on 4 heavy-hitting lyrical rappers and 3 other acts for some melody on the project.
The intro to the opener, In Don We Trust, by Don Sokiz sets the whole mood for the album and pulls the listener in. From that moment on, you have now left the shores of Nollywood for Mario Puzo’s universe. The track shows a vulnerable side of the Don as he shares the bittersweet journey and situation of his family; by blood and oath.
The verse and the track is easily the best opener of the year, even though it’s only January. He gave us a glimpse into his relationship with his parents; the regret of not setting things straight with his old man before he was called to Glory, and the unconventional mother-son love. He also admitted that his dreams and the means he went about achieving them are the cause of these, but he loves them dearly, regardless.
The rapper also gave us a glimpse into the means he’s taken, and the loyalty his oath family showed one another, even while behind bars. A lot of lines/bars to be highlighted, and if we did that, we just might write an article for each track. The story on the record is definitely a portrait of his biography.
Cheque brought his sonorous voice on Drip with a sauce hook accompanied by that type of beat that you played while parked while chilling with your boys in Anglo/Moz car park. Payper stayed laid back giving the Big Poppa vibes with smooth flows, tight rhyme scheme, and cadence on his verses and bridge. He does the same on the upbeat tempo of Shake It and That’s Wassup as he enters elite debauchery mode with Iceberg Slim, while Sinzu went the hustle route, only.
Vector delivered a laid back Rapfrobeat verse on Mafo with complex rhyme schemes and entendre, while sacrificing flows for rhythm. Guess that’s a limitation caused by the new subgenre he is trying to establish and I’m rooting for the OG to overcome this challenge. Payper on the other hand paid his respects with the OG’s line “…the number 1 from the 234…”, and the double entendre of “I want the smoke but I’ll take the booze/boos” line was also sleek. They both pulled power cards just to tell shorty why she should be with them. At the end of the day, women finding powerful men attractive is a primal thing.
So Bossy‘s seemed sampled from Brandy‘s Full Moon as he fuelled it with more debauchery and hustle with a sprinkle of name dropping in it to drive home his point. Once again, he transports us back to Mario Puzo’s world with the skit, Welcome to the Family, an initiation into the La Cosa Nostra (Sicilian Mafia). The initiation process usually involves the intiate being cut (palm or thumb) and he spills blood on a picture of a Saint and the picture is set on fire. If you break the omertà (code of silence), after one dies, their soul is said to burn like the saint picture burn at their intiation.
The skit seemed to separate Hardcore from the other genres he took on. Feel Good with Wuka was on the South African amanpiano beat, and he laid his shortest verse on the album on it. Surprisingly, he did really well staying on rhythm the whole time he rapped. Tetta came on board with Jhené Aiko’s feel on the love song, Little Things. Payper was again sleek and smooth in the verse with internal rhyme schemes as he glided on the R&B beat, whilst pouring out his feelings for his Mami. It was followed up with a heartbreak song, Difficult, with Wuka, again. The Don took a shot at drill music with TJK on the moderate tempo Double G, and the upbeat tempo Gang Outside. Pulled it off gracefully.
Full Effect is that song that you played for anyone that asked for the meaning of a hard rap song. This beat is so hard that the trio went all out on it. Although Payper and Sinzu used the same rhyme in their verses, “smoking up an ounce, came in unannounced”. Whether it was intentional or not, only those involved know the answer to that. Hotyce followed with a befitting verse that was not only tight, his vocal presence on the track should not go without mentioning. The inefficiencies of the corrupt Leadership and Police were addressed in End Sars, our very own N.W.A F**k The Police. The album is closed with You’re Forgiven, a credit roll where he asserts his dominance over the rappers as he forgives their foolishness and gives them his pinky to kiss.
All through the entire album, Payper Corleone wrote every verse with the same energy and intention as those of the opener. He never slacked or took a breather, no filler or cheeky or cheesy lines all through the whole thing. The only chink in this body of work is its production. A listener manually controls the volume as the song transitions to the next track, which is either louder or quieter than the previous track. Some tracks were not ended well as they just cut off suddenly or too soon. Sinzu‘s verse on That’s Wassup seemed like it was recorded via WhatsApp.
Asides from these chinks, In Don We Trust is a great body of work with a number of his verses entering the Top Verses of 2021 conversation, a couple or more songs in the Songs of the Year and Lyricist on Roll conversations as well. Might be too early to say as the year just started and a number of wordsmiths – Vader, SDC, Ojinni, M.I, etc. – are expected/likely to release projects this year. A very competitive and great year ahead for hip hop in Nigeria.
Even the album art makes a statement, a very dangerous looking fellow armed with a mighty pen.