“Rush Hour” revels in the riotous and reflective raps of Sam R I. Storyteller of the ups and downs of life, whether it is a celebration or somber affair, he does it all in a style that is unique his own. He proves to be a true force of nature and also knows when to pull back that intensity for dramatic effect. Every single verse here hits hard for he burns through these tracks with a tremendous amount of style that feels truly potent. The heady mix shows off the impeccable production, from the crisp sound of the production to the smooth soulful samples utilized throughout, it all works together as one vast stream of consciousness.
Sam R I takes a page from hip-hop’s history with that strong nod towards the impeccable boom bap style. Beyond this, he also features a bit of the present, as the trap beats also have a fierce presence throughout. With this mixture of both old-school and nu-school approaches he creates a sound that feels classic yet very much modern. References abound, perhaps the most obvious being the laid-back yet confident flow of Biggie Smalls, whose ability to effortlessly combine the tragic and comic together is reflected in his flawlessly executed verses. Going further into the mix A Tribe Called Quest’s lush, almost orchestral flavor and smoky noir ethos further adds to the impressive array. However, despite all of these influences Sam R I builds upon hip-hop’s history rather than outright copying it, for there is an intensity and razor-sharp focus that is uniquely his own.
Nor is a single moment wasted as things start up with a J Dilla – like funk swagger on the title track and opener “Rush Hour”. The song’s mournful elements are filtered through a prism, as the many colors emerge of loss both through the jazz sampling, the media samples, as well as fantastic, thoughtful lyricism. “Interstate” slows things down further as the references between movies and real life get blurred, almost making the distinction between the two impossible to discern, adding to the track’s surreal quality. “Don Quixote (feat. Joe Dank)” spits verses like fire, for the song burns bright with a sense of urgency driving it forward. Within a few bars they mention Salvador Dali and Evil Kenevil, giving you a strong vibe of the unexpected. Rhythms play off each other on the surprisingly sly “Icy Winter” with the vibraphone sampling a particular joy as there is a confidence to the delivery, one that feels so raw and real.
Woozy, warped grooves take shape on the pop culture reference dropping “Jewelry (feat. P-Rob the Underrated)”. Here the rhythm is slowed down almost to the breaking point, as its hazy tempo works wonders with the hypnotic melody. By far the highlight comes from the nimble crispness of “Whateva Mane”. Lyrics cascades downwards as the song’s humor and classic spirit makes it feel like a long-lost mixtape from the 90s. Cryptic, eerie atmospherics run through the whole of the uneasy “Buzz” as the lyrics have a haunted quality to them. “Heaven Hell” closes the collection off on a high note, as the song’s meditative presence feels pitch perfect.
“Rush Hour” is a truly remarkable sound sculpted and delivered with poise by the undeniably potent force of Sam R I.