An EP for Hip Hop fans who miss the golden days.
Strizzy Strauss is an MC from Leicester who shares a strong Hip Hop message in his second project Trust the Process. From the very origins of the genre there has always been lyrics which serve to empower the listener, and Strauss’ consistent flows, digestible rhymes and boom bap production harken back to Hip Hop’s late 80’s. On this album Strauss commonly references a desire to take his music to new heights as a career, which to me emphasises his bravery in turning back the clocks on this project. Another central theme of Trust the Process is to be true to oneself, and thus this style of Hip Hop is clearly the means by which Strauss best feels capable of expressing himself; certainly refreshing for fans like me who have had more than our fill of the indulgences ubiquitous to modern Hip Hop.
Certainly one of the strong suits of this album is its production. You ought to expect boom bap beats which roll naturally and form an ideal canvas for story-telling, with a jazziness reminiscent of A Tribe called Quest. ‘Hieroglyfics’ shines as a prime example; a hot piano instrumental which empowers Strauss to let his “soul speak” through his lyrics. The production on this record is never cluttered and feels integral to its accomplishments as a piece of music which expresses the identity of its creator. ‘Gems’ is one of the album’s more interesting cuts to me. Horns on the instrumental give it a Chance the Rapper vibe, but Strauss makes the sparkly beat his own on this track where he’s giving advice to a friend over the phone. This isn’t some shallow agony aunt assistance, he’s trying to drop the audience gems that he’s learnt himself throughout his life, exploring the virtues of patience, wisdom and trust.
‘How ya mean’ is a brilliant reflection of 80’s Hip Hop, the lyrics aren’t super smooth and the rhymes aren’t quite fitting together succinctly, but with his delivery it reminds me of freestyled rap verses that were more common in the past. If you’re someone who is focused on the value of each individual lyric then this track won’t sit with you well, but to me this is an example of a piece of art that is more than the sum of its parts. It’s Strizzy’s imperfections that become his perfections when the lyrics feel like he is making them up on the spot, and thus feel even more like a production of his true emotion rather than a calculated attempt to make a track that people will find easy to listen to. This is the case for a number of tracks on Trust the Process.
Though perhaps this is why I was disappointed by the sung chorus’ in the closing tracks ‘Driven’ and ‘Follow Your Dreams’. The latter’s gospel simplicity might connect with you, but for me it didn’t spark excitement when the hook made me feel like I had heard the same type of vaguely motivational song 1000 times before. ‘Driven’ is a great track minus its chorus. An awesome vocal sample in the production sets a good mood for Strauss to talk about how his partner has driven him to become a better person, reminiscing on the journey that they have shared. There’s a great lyric here when Strauss comments that he “loves her more than any trapper says he loves his cash”; it’s a statement that is indicative of this record’s message that happiness is to be found through the love of others as opposed to the pursuit of wealth. I don’t have an issue with a sung chorus for this song, but it’s vocals feel untrue to what I took from the track. The lyrics, the melody and the mix all feel too edited to me, serving to take away from the honesty that Strauss gets across in his verses.
Trust the Process is an album that certainly ought not to be missed for Hip Hop fans looking for an artist who speaks with honesty and truth. I found that this record is uplifting through the strength which Straus shows in his vulnerability, talking with candid emotion about how his goals have developed now that he has a family. This is a really mature Hip Hop project that’s greatest success is its embrace of imperfection, harnessing the freestyle attitude of the 80’s that seems to have gone missing over time.