Motown Priest is a 37 year old MC from Queens, New York by the way of Detroit, Michigan who first emerged in almost a decade ago off his the strength of his debut EP This Thing of Ours followed by the full-length debut Art of Urban Warfare only nearly 16 months afterwards. But after an 8-year hiatus, the Motown Priest is signing to the historic Boston label Brick Records to help make a comeback on his sophomore album.

“Great Depression” is a jazzy opener asking what you know about pacing in a prison cell depressed out of your mind whereas “Pandora’s Box” goes full blown rap rock with a conscious take on the paper. “The Calogero Effect” works in a bare soul sample as dude talks about needing a closet to hide his skeletons in when he was a child just before “Farewell to Welfare” asks how much is a dollar worth over a boom bap instrumental with some unsettling pianos.

Meanwhile on “Employee of the Month”, we have the Motown Priest delivering a scathing & engaging takedown of the American Dream leading into the raw, grungy “New Religion” talking about the gangsta lifestyle. “Nathaniel’s Mask” returns to jazzier turf discussing power being a powerful drug in a city full of cowards & thugs, but then “For Sale” hope on top of some swooning vocal chops & string sections saying everyone’s for sale because everybody for self.

“Alphabeta” is a bluesy boom bap cut wanting to have a conversation with his people while the song “Trials” fuse some kicks, snares & a guitar loop to heartbreakingly looks back on the people he’s lost to the gang life. The penultimate track “Dreams & Stories to Tell” brings back the jazz 1 last time talking about that being exactly what he has to offer until “Drug Money Theory” ties things up with a conscious rap rock ballad.

For a debut, Hawthorne definitely gives new listeners a look at at the Motown Priest is capable of doing on the mic & is surely destined to continually grow as an artist from hereon out. The production is fascinatingly eclectic, it’s cohesive & the narratives give a searing look at the world we all live in today in such a gripping fashion by connecting the unique worlds of both music & film.

Score: 8/10