One look at the cover of Elzhi’s yet to be released project Lead Poison and a vast variety of interpretations come to mind. Is the burden of the hip hop industry and fans expectations too much for the Detroit wordsmith? The imagery depicts Elzhi dodging and ducking for cover as pencils rain from the sky, quite a thought-provoking visual to say the least. His first project since his classic Elmatic release in 2011, Lead Poison was completed while Elzhi was engaged in an intense bout with depression. Ironically, according to the man himself, it was the lead from the pencil as he penned his lyrical magic that released this psychological poison from his body, finally allowing him to remove the cloud that was hovering above and unveiling this work of art to the masses.
Opening up this project is “Medicine Man,” a track that presents Elzhi recalling a conversation that he had with a very wise man helping him along during his battle with depression, all over the sounds of lead being put to the pad on the background. This track is a great opener for the album, as it really gives the public a peek into his mentality at the time of the projects creation and also serves as great words of wisdom for any listeners being faced with the same struggle. On this track he spits, “don’t fall for the illusions of losing, because it’s the ups and downs that create the W.” On the next track “Introverted” Elzhi spits over a gritty yet sentimental guitar solo and delicately strummed piano keys courtesy of producer Bombay about his struggle to reach success in the industry. Elzhi makes sure to drop more words of wisdom on this track as he rhymes, “You’re bound to fall if you walk before you try crawling, the same as not having things in your name looking fly balling.”
“February,” one of the singles dropped from this project has Elzhi rhyming over 14KT’s beautiful piano loop and heavy drums about all of the dark moments the month of February has brought to his door in the past. This track is one of the more introspective cuts on a project that brings much substance to the table — steak and potatoes to provide a hearty meal. As a stark contrast to its predecessor, Elzhi spits his classic rapid fire, cypheresque flow, putting in their place all opposing MCs who dare challenge on the track “EGOcentric.” What is humility? On this track, Elzhi has no clue, and his ignorance sounds quite blissful.
On “Two 16’s,” he tells two tales of youth lost to the streets in a very clever play on the concept of spitting two 16-bar verses. Karriem Riggins provides the unique oft-kilter production on this track that features a very catchy vocal sample. This song is just another addition to Elzhi’s classic collection of storytelling tracks in his discography. “ALIENated,” another single release off from this project has Elzhi spitting about feelings of intense isolation due to feeling out of place in society and lacking a person to confide in. He once again puts his very clever wordplay to use by drawing parallels to himself and a being from another planet spitting out of this world rhymes like:
After stopping I’m tryna hop in a meteor shower
Get dressed but there won’t be no time to unwind
I’ll be busy either moonwalking or walkin’ on sunshine
While my chain hang over me dips down to the sun
So when it swings it’s like a solar eclipse
Which makes me start writing bars
Lighting cigars off planet Mars flicking’ ashes
You would call falling stars
All year round, June to June
I wanna say I sat on Saturn
Murked Mercury and mooned the moon
Another single off this project “Cosign” plays off of the message of the track “Alienated,” in a very interesting way as he proudly proclaims that all of the success he’s achieved in his career was accomplished on his lonesome without a cosign — a concept that is so pivotal to many artists establishing a fanbase and gaining a jumpstart on their career. Closing up the album is “Keep Dreaming,” which has the Detroit MC providing a bit of inspiration by sharing his own victories and letting the masses know why he’s a cut above the rest.
After a five-year hiatus Elzhi has come back just as strong as before if not better with this effort, which is even more outstanding given the psychological circumstances that this work of art was created under. This project is sure to satisfy the masses expectations and has the potential to go down in the books as a classic for the underground legend. Lead Poison is set to hit stores March 25 and can be preordered here.
Standout Tracks: “‘February”, “EGOcentric”, “Two 16s”, “Alienated”
Overall Rating: 8/10