Beleaf “Red Pills + Black Sugar” Album Review
The art of storytelling may be one of life’s most powerful—and envied—skills. A story well told can make us laugh, weep, swell with pride, or rise with indignation. A story poorly told is not just boring or uncomfortable, but positively painful to experience. A well-crafted narrative can keep the people, values, and life lessons you hold dear alive and give you the power to influence your children, your employees, and others. Beleaf accomplishes this on his debut album “Red Pills + Black Sugar”. Instead of taking what has become the prevalent route and making songs that make you want to “Turn Up For Jesus”, Beleaf took the time to tell intricate stories that are relevant and full of substance.
Red Pills + Black Sugar touches on topics such as abusive relationships, suicide, depression, and racial discrimination among others. These are not foreign topics to the CHH genre, but the way Beleaf conveys these issues through his narratives, rose a sense of emotion out of me that no other artist or song has done before. As I listened to Red Pills + Black Sugar I found myself engulfed by the stories told by Beleaf and his fellow storytellers.
“Parallel” is the first song I was immediately able to relate to. You follow Beleaf through his process of holding police officers to a high esteem as a child to becoming fearful of them as a young man. Unfortunately at some point in time most men of color experience being wrongfully profiled by the police because of their skin tone. This topic is something that has been regularly discussed in mainstream hip hop, but to my knowledge this is new ground for CHH and Beleaf does an outstanding job at channeling his life experiences to create a song that will surely promote productive discussion in the CHH community.
“Wings” is story about a young woman in the midst of a physically abusive relationship. Beleaf is assisted in telling this story by new-comers to the CHH genre, female rapper “Torch’ and songstress “Kyra De’Nae”. The song begins with a phone call to 911 as a woman answers “911 what’s you emergency?” a distraught child with a concerned voice states “He’s hitting mommy!” This brief dialoug sets the tone for the proceeding narrative, which is bitter sweet at best. Once again Beleaf expounds on a sensitive subject that forces you to relate and empathize with this abused woman even if you’ve never been in a abusive relationship. Beleaf speaks from the perspective of a concerned friend or family member in this song. As someone who has seen some of my close friends in abusive relationships, I can say that he effectively expressed the frustrations of someone concerned with one of their family members in an abusive relationship.
Beleafs expert skill as an MC gives him the liberty to do an entire album without any features, because he doesn’t need them to make his project dope. Track number six…”DEPRESSED”…This song is like the Hulk, Superman, and Super Saiyan 3 Goku mixed altogether. Beleaf, Mr.J.Medeiros, Jackie Hill, JGivens, and Marty body bagged this song, Wontel body bagged this beat, this song should really be called “Body Bag”! Although the subject matter of this song maybe dark, it still bangs. Every one of these lyricists brought there A Game on this song. This song was like a battle of who can spit the hardest verse, when you listen to the song you can make that call yourself.
“Suicide Roll” immediately follows “Depressed”. This is the best suicide song I’ve heard since I listened to “Stan” by Eminem. The track is stripped down to just an upright bass and a crying trumpet. The minimal amount of production allows you to connect emotionally with the character in this heart wrenching song. Fortunately this song is immediately followed by “Made For This”, an uplifting song that encourages you to have faith,trust in God, and to keep on pushing through the trials of this life. The song begins with birds chirping in the distance a lightly strummed guitar, and a beautiful and calming vocal executed by ABIV who has been featured on other notable projects recently. The song transitions from an uplifting acoustic ballad to a uplifting hip hop anthem performed by Beleaf.
The final song I will speak on is “WOW (Walking On Water)” which features the lyrically flawless John Gives and Kyra De’Nae once again. To me this song will always hold a special place in my heart. The first night I began listening to this album was the night my wife had a miscarriage. As we sat in the hospital I listened to “WOW” on repeat. It encouraged my wife and I as we sat in the emergency room waiting to be seen by a doctor. This song ministered to me during one of the hardest times in my life, so I’m truly thankful to Beleaf, John Givez, and Kyra De’Nae for coming together and doing this song.
Beleaf put together an awesome body of work for his debut album. I’m not sure if my review gives Red Pills + Black Sugar the accolades it deserves, but I encourage everyone to add this album to their music library.