We’ve had the pleasure of covering the two previous full-length releases by Boston-based rapper, Quinn Essential. He’s proven himself time and time again to be an extremely gifted lyricist. His raps exude self-confidence yet he avoids coming across as too egotistical and there is a lot more substance to his rhymes than endless self-promotion. He draws upon a wealth of life experience and there is a real honesty to his writing. His latest album Poison Pen Letter is no exception.
My Way is the opening track and is a focused, energetic announcement of the return of Quinn Essential’s return. It’s short and sweet; Quinn’s flows are quick and fluid and the beat is ecstatic and upbeat, with sonic references to the hip-hop of old – something that is a bit of a theme throughout this record.
Only Time Will Tell is a downbeat, soulful number set over the top of a jazzy, keyboard loop. The hook is killer on this one; it’s super catchy and captures the wise, reflective tone of the lyric. Time has proven Quinn’s consistency as an artist and he doesn’t miss the chance to acknowledge this: “They said I wouldn’t go far / I connected the dots / My name’s written in the stars”.
Salud is one of the darker tracks on the album. The beat is slow and trap-like and a collage of feedback-like sound effects and female vocals form the base layer to Quinn’s sharp, antagonizing delivery. Again he addresses negativity and ‘hater culture’ in the rap game, and sends the message that he is constantly honing his craft and will stop at nothing to pursue his musical journey.
Quinn saves some of the very best for last with the profoundly evocative closing track, Caught Up. Shining a light on some of the bad times, Quinn raps about troubled relationships, unreciprocated kinship, and trying to forge his way in the world. “I’m a healer / It’s a bandage or a bullet / I’ve saved the lives of some people I probably shouldn’t”. A sincere piano loop forms the basis of the beat, with swirling synths and tape-sped vocal samples keeping things interesting.
Poison Pen Letter is a truly phenomenal hip-hop record. There is a nice balance of soft and harsh tones and Quinn Essential’s storytelling keeps the listener captivated all the way through. The beat selection is top notch and the track listing flows seamlessly from start to finish, with Quinn’s witty and thought-provoking rhetoric the silky glue that holds it all together.
BELOW: Listen to Poison Pen Letter and connect with his website and social media platforms. Please support Quinn Essential by visiting him online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing his music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!
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