Torae is a 46 year old MC from Coney Island, New York emerging in 2008 off his debut mixtape Daily Conversation & the follow-up Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself. Fast-forward to the next spring/summer, he enlisted Toronto beatsmith Marco Polo for his next 2 tapes Armed & Dangerous and Double Barrel before preluding his full-length debut For the Record on Valentine’s Day 2011 by releasing the debut EP Heart Failure. For the Record would come that fall & a 2nd EP Off the Record consisting of outtakes from that debut LP arrived about 9 or 10 months later. Torae then put out his 5th mixtape Admission of Guilt a week before spring & eventually released his sophomore effort Entitled when 2016 started. He’s been pretty much doing features since then, but is re-emerging with Marco Polo returning behind the boards to unleash the 3rd album in his discography.
“Reloaded” is a grimy boom bap opener looking to aim at your spot whereas “The Return” works in an orchestral sample as well as some kicks & snares talking about being back up in this bitch after 7 & a half long years. “Makin’ Up” takes the soulful route asking if you rockin’ that ill shit just before “Oh No” flips “Remember (Walking in the Sand)” by The Shangri-Las a thousand times better than TikTok did talking about how he can’t be fucked with lyrically.
Meanwhile, “Grey Sheep” is another rugged boom bap talking about being here for the cash money & to last leading into “Life Behind Bars” shoots for a tender approach atmospherically talking about his personal experiences of what it was like for him to be incarcerated. “Mardi Gras” blends more horns, kicks & snare so than describe the way they mob the streets, but then “Rap Shit” is another sample-based boom bap cut talking about taking this seriously.
I think the gospel flip on the penultimate track “Days of Your Lifetime” is pretty dope as are the subject matter revolving around the fact that the days that we live don’t even compare to his on any circumstances whatsoever & “More Danger” is an incredibly raw closer paying homage to one of my all-time favorite KRS-One cuts ”Rappaz R.N. Dainja”.
As someone who got into Torae during my freshman of high school when For the Record came out & enjoyed that album as much as I did Double Barrel, I’m very happy to hear that he & Marco reunited here because this could very well be better than the body of work they did together 14 years ago. The signature boom bap production from the Toronto maestro & hardcore lyricism from the Coney Island wordsmith have always sounded great together, but they elevate it here over a decade later.