By Christopher Brocker
Assistant Music Director
Armani Caesar is a Buffalo native and also the newest member of the hip-hop group Griselda. Griselda has gained notoriety for bringing back the grimy old school hip-hop sound. Their music typically consists of crime inspired bars and vintage sampling. Caesar joins the likes of Conway The Machine, Benny the Butcher, and Westside Gunn. Griselda is known for putting Buffalo, New York on the map.
The Liz is Caesar’s first project as a member of Griselda, however, she’s released projects for nearly a decade.
The beat is minimalistic with a looped piano sample. Caesar has a confident delivery with nice adlibs. Caesar has aggressive lines like “I’ma put a bomb in your Benz” and “Every red light you see, you thinkin’ it’s a beam.”
The hook samples Redman which is fitting on this menacing beat. The song is brief like most of the tracks on The Liz however, it’s one of the strongest.
Mac 10’s for everybody
This track has another simple old school beat. Caesar speaks on her come up in her first verse. Lines such as “Remember nights I used to freeze, f***** up, eatin’ no grilled cheese, it made me stronger, real queens go through things” illustrate her experiences before fame.
Fellow Griselda member Westside Gunn, has a melodic delivery on the chorus and brings his signature adlibs.
The beat begins with a heavy drum pattern and looped piano. Caesar gives another great performance with poised delivery. Fellow Griselda member Conway the Machine, assist on this track. Conway’s verse includes a Michael Jordan reference and my favorite line “Rollie on my left wrist from s*** that my other hand write.”
This is one of the most fleshed-out songs on the entire record with sampled wrestling audio to conclude it.
Drill a RaMA
This is the most accessible track on the project due to its production. The beat has a contemporary sounding drum pattern to it. Benny the Butcher starts it off with a braggadocious intro before delivering his verse. Caesar follows with a witty trick or treat line in her verse. The two work together on the hook before Caesar follows up with her verse.
Caesar flows over the beat well and provides an enjoyable verse. “Drill a RaMA” isn’t the most substantial lyrically, however, it’s an entertaining track.
One of the singles off The Liz, Caesar is accompanied by fellow Griselda member Benny The Butcher. The beat samples Queen Latifah’s “Inside Out” which fits the vintage sound. Caesar gives another great performance here and fits perfectly in this context. Benny has one of the best lines, however, “The graveyard in my city like a high school reunion.”
This is one of the singles off of The Liz. “Yum Yum” is the most sensual song on the project. The trap drum pattern makes this song more accessible. Caesar is more playful on this track however, still maintains her confident and slick delivery.
Caesar references Meg Thee Stallion which is fitting given her presence is similar to this song. Caesar brings a lot of charisma and charm on this track which shows her versatility.
A sampled guitar loops in the background of this laid backbeat. Caesar raps about a relationship of hers that she’s content with. She notes her partner’s authenticity and acceptance of her. She speaks on her willingness to protect him and inversely how much better the relationship is compared to her past one.
The song concludes with audio of a scene in the movie Poetic Justice. The brief comedic scene includes Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur.
Main Moves Freestyles
The beat samples Roy Ayers Ubiquity’s “Searching.” As a fan of Roy Ayers and his band, this is easily my favorite sample used.
Caesar begins her verse with the sampled line “Who you lovin who you wanna be huggin” from Lil’ Kim. This is a brief yet enjoyable track that concludes the album. Caesar has a slick and confident delivery over the soulful production. My favorite line was definitely her Buzz Lightyear reference.
The Liz is a very strong body of work from Caesar. The beat selection on this project never misses although, some are more enjoyable than others. Caesar fits perfectly on every beat on this album and I want to hear more of her on contemporary beats like on “Drill a RaMa.” Caesar’s storytelling ability was on display on “Palm Angels.” It suited well on the nostalgic sounding beat, but more anecdotal stories would assist in developing her rap persona.
All of the Griselda members are present on The Liz and are the exclusive features. All of which give great performances. Caesar proved she can hang with the Griselda members on this record while also tapping into different lanes like on “Yum Yum.”
My main issue with the project is it’s brevity as many of the songs aren’t fleshed out. There aren’t many quotable lines from Caesar however, her presence and delivery are impeccable. Caesar’s versatility bodes well for Griselda and her star potential. I will be looking forward to future releases.
Featured Image via The Liz album artwork