In 2018, there is hip-hop for the kids, and then there is hip-hop for the grown folks. The latest single from Choqlate Songbird is without a doubt a proud member of the latter category, if it manages to be contained by any category at all. Melding the sonic oasis of modern synth beats against rhythm and rhyme that recalls vintage rap, “Stay Down (By My Side)” indeed is a call for loyalty, not only from a lover but from a scene that many critics have felt has lost its way in recent years. Choqlate has prominently shut those critics down with this single from his buzz-garnering extended play, Choqlate Elements.
Like other tracks on Elements, Choqlate Songbird channels self-conscious lyrics against blistering beats to create an almost overwhelming environment of rich sounds layered over each other with great precision. Those self-conscious lyrics act as such a release when you’re in the moment with that ocean of sound, much like person to person communication can do on its own in the chaos of our world. There’s plenty of fun for the freewheeling Top 40 crowd to get into the beat and find some movement in this song, but there’s enough substance in the lyrics for serious music fans and rap aficionados to take this man seriously.
Record producers, especially those looking to shell out an album quickly, will do whatever it takes to bring a song up to speed with the current sound. Usually that means abusing auto-tuning software on vocal tracks to get everything totally in sync, stripping away minor “flaws” and subtle imperfections that can create an inexpensive feel on a master recording, and even alter lyrics from the artist’s original direction to make the subject matter more accessible to the so-called mainstream listener. Something tells me that when Choqlate Songbird heads into the studio, the last thing on his mind is appeasing the masses or limiting his creative talents to match up with anyone else in the game. This is a guy who likes to make things big, whether it’s expressing love, lust or just spitting raps with no hesitation. There’s no boxing this sound in. The synthesized riffs are so mammoth that it takes a plethora of harmonies to match their energy.
Stationed in Columbus, Ohio, in the heart of the industrial upper Midwest, Choqlate Songbird appears to be building quite the following, especially amongst fellow musicians, and he’s brought a couple of particularly awesome gems with him on “Stay Down (By My Side).” The soft as silk styles of singer Tone Malone and sexy sense of danger that Kaleo Ross bring to the bridge will make anyone want to drop the top on the convertible and cruise on down the highway. Hip-hop isn’t as feel good as it can be sometimes, but “Stay Down” ironically lifts up the listener to the chill, consistently groovy state of mind that all of the tracks on Choqlate Elements champion with a deep passion. Available now on CDBaby, fans of intricate, grown-up music will want to stay tuned to everything that Choqlate Songbird is developing right now (be sure to check out his Twitter, Facebook and ReverbNation page at reverbnation.com/CHOQLATESONGBIRD for more music and info).