Crown is depicted as the game changer album in a rap world where Loose Kaynon and
Very few rappers in the game have as much resolve as A-Q has exhibited in his decade-long journey on the scene.
A-Q fits perfectly into the phrase, 'been there, done that', and commendably he is still here. Two solid body of works in the last two years in ''Rose'' and ''Blessed Forever'' has strongly enhanced the constant rhetoric that he never ceases to announce to all who step into his timeline, 'I told you I am the greatest'.
If there is something you will give him credit for, it is his ability to keep reinventing himself from that almost always 'bitter and ready to bite' rapper, to the wise veteran who now understands the place of collaboration to foster his career.
For Loose Kaynon, I remember walking into Koko Lounge one fateful Monday night many years ago. The rapper was pushing the art form in all ways that seemed wrong but making it work out right.
A hip-hop event on the mainland on the first working day of the week just didn't seem to make sense, but that day at the venue, watching hip-hop lovers converge as rappers took to the stage, confirmed the saying that at times it takes the abnormal route to leave a lasting legacy and that is what Loose achieved during the period that Wax Lyrical lasted.
While A-Q's discography is fairly impressive, that of Loose has been quite sparse with just one project in Gemini, released in 2016, but despite the length of their careers, an underdog tag has long been hung round their necks, so the idea of a joint project was as welcoming and refreshing for both parties.
Understanding their limits, the tracks rely on an array of vocalists to supply hooks, from Chigurl to Debbie Romeo, Torna and Yoye.
The album opens with 'Out of This World' and they brought the church on this one. A-Q is immediately off the blocks, reeling out movie references, with his very impressive flow.
''Fly young nigga, Fly'' is the order from Loose as he soars with the rhythm and tempo helping them land perfectly on the zenith.
On 'Regrets', the beat is cold, Loose can't even afford to wait for the beat to come on, he is about to slaughter someone, while Debbie makes a return with a foreboding hook as she says a prayer of grace, this is the A-Q of ''Past, Present and Future'' reborn.
''For everytime you were yapping, I was practising every night... top 5 rappers, and I am coming for the top three, try to rob me of my glory, such fuckery,'' he boasts.
Next is 'Gang Gang', a song Loose chooses as his best song on the project and you can understand why through the hippy and braggadocious verse he serves, featuring Chocolate City's Torna who brings the Trap flavour with his Igbo delivered hook into the mix. A-Q's verse on this is silky.
The album titled track, 'Crown' is Slaughterhouse's'Truth or Truth' in a refined version, featuring the duo of Show Dem Camp's Ghost and Tec, two of the most consistent flag bearers of the genre in the last few years.
Like Loose explained, 'Crown' is the first song they started recording on the project, and also the last to finish as they had to wait forever for Tec to send his verse and it was absolutely worth the wait.
Taking turns, the four emcees serve a lyrical feast of pure hip-hop offering with Reinhard the royal chef who supplies the hardest beat for them to ride on.
Everyone is in prime form on this, with Ghost spearheading the regal assault, his voice is as gritty as ever adding an extra edge to his mean verse.
A-Q is touching on everything from when rap used to matter to BlackLivesMatter, Melanin, SA rap, Linda Ikeji, this is the kitchen sink flung through the door, then comes Loose with some royalty bars, he is straight gliding through this, like this is comfort zone music for him, and Tec's verse is hella sharp and stinging, it is an assault and one that is quite ruthless.
The duo lower their guards on 'By Your Side' which features Yoye, as they admit to their softer side, On Off Black, Blaqbonez, who has his album scheduled as the third in the series is the guest artist and he imposes his trap persona on this. One of A-Q's least impressive verses on the project, while Loose comes correct yet again.
There is that lingering and chilling vocal grace that Chigurl brings on 'Hustlers Prayer' that warns you of what to come, a verse that according to MI, she recorded via a voice note just before undergoing surgery.
A-Q is introspective, this is grown man rap as he opens up on how rough the journey has been, ''Everything I hold sacred is now a given, everything that I believed in is now bringing division... just before I go, I hold the record as the best,'' he rhymes. Then comes Loose and this is a shutdown.
'God Wants Us To Be Too Lit' is an uncharming ending to the 33-minute journey of eternal rap with producer Beats by Jayy rather unnecessarily tagging along.
Crown is in every way worth its own hype, as the two rappers conjure the right energy, revived hunger and poetical flights of prescient flows to evoke a project that caters for both the old and new hip-hop fans.
The album is not without its failings, but the production and musical direction on Crown almost makes this the duo's best ever project yet.
For years, the abilities of the two rappers have been clouded under imperfect attempts to balance their lyrical prowess with commercial attempts, but like A-Q admitted in a recent interview, the album had been long done, but MI insisting on working his production brush on the project helped polish it into a wholesome magic box that dazzles the audience as each song unravels.
Like a quote from Shakespeare reads, ''a crown fit well upon the head of a pedant; but let him wear it who deserves it.''
A-Q and Loose have reached for this symbol of ascendancy and they deserve it. Crown exudes an opulence of everything that hip-hop represents plus more. This is an album that shoots at restoring hip-hop to its glory days and its aim doesn't fall too far off from the throne.
1-Dull2-Boring2.5-Average3-Worth Checking Out3.5-Hot4-Smoking Hot4.5-Amazing5-Perfection