SeKwence’s fifth project in under twelve months and his debut album proper, WONDER IF HELL HAS A BUFFET is, somehow, also his greatest to date. The array of production feels like a beautiful amalgam of the beatmakers who’ve aided him throughout his career, ranging from Budget Cuts 2 mastermind Killer Kane to the legend Thelonious Martin, who previously offered two beats on last April’s FULGORE. The Souless conglomerate shows out here, revenxnt and ntvrme offer two beats each, Isaac Larue and noface each have a cut. Even Ruci shows up, collaborating with revenxnt on ‘July’, arguably the record’s overall highlight from a production perspective. ‘July’ is a really ambitious track, swaying and knocking while a lonely sax sings mournfully in the background. Ruci takes the reigns more directly with some gorgeous synth work as the song reaches its conclusion and Sek, who on this album sounds more determined and focused than ever before, encapsulates the sentiments he’s been echoing for a while now: ‘We’re just puzzle pieces to this life shit’.

SeKwence has a history of choosing fantastic openers, and ‘betrDays’ is no different. A three minute journey into the minds of both Sek and guest rapper Swade, the track is the best Thelonious Martin collaboration the rapper has offered to date. ‘I know it’s better days ahead now, I got the devil off my shoulders and my head now’ he raps, a wise refrain from a rapper who already appears to have reached a true creative milestone. He claimed on Twitter that this was his first project born from a largely sober mindset, and it’s incredibly apparent in this album’s content. It’s extremely telling that, despite the numerous quality guest verses on offer here, the most interesting rapper in the room is always the Alabama spitter.

On the subject of guests, It’s vitally important that I talk about ‘Bloom.26’. A beautifully minimal song produced by affiliate Dweeb, it’s by far the longest on the album and one of the most fully-fleshed out joints in the rapper’s whole discography. The song really does suit its title, gracefully blossoming from Sek’s opening verse: ‘I was complacent for the longest time, tryna find the light. Them habits that I dropped was really hard to quit’ before sliding into a neat contribution from the youngest uber-talent of the group, ntvrme. His verse is sweet and smooth, leaping into a melodic passage with the assistance of ʟärs at the track’s midpoint. The latter rapper is built for this romantic style and offers a characteristically great performance. Barry Marrow wraps the posse cut up with a hilarious set of bars. Everyone here really showed out, delivering different takes on the noodly, guitar-driven beat.

But as with every Sek project, the best cuts here are the towering solo cuts he offers in abundance here. ‘Peach Color Sky’ is one of the most immediate tracks here, the funk-laden Satch production is a brilliant match for the crooned, Swimming-era Mac Miller hook. ‘My self value on a thousand, relocate up in the mountains. That-90 proof it got me drowsy, but I’m still aware of my surroundings.’ is one of my favourite lyrics on the whole project. ‘The Round’ channels Mac’s legacy in a completely different way. Noface; who frequently brings out the best in Sek’s rapping; delivers the project’s epic conclusion with some powerful organs and subdued percussion before incorporating a sample of Mac’s voice stating: ‘People just started getting how real everything was to me, I’d say’. This song has the best rapping on the whole project: ‘Don’t shed no blood for the leeches that only come around when it’s convenient, that only come around when they need you. I weeded out the snakes and now my flowers blooming.’ is the most vital lyrical excerpt from the rapper’s most emotionally charged offering to date.

I really cannot stress enough how good this project is, every single adds a completely new dynamic to the SeKwence discography, or heavily expands on an existing one. This takes the grit of Budget Cuts 2 and massively amplifies the power of the messages conveyed and the stories told. Much like Sek and Kane’s second project, WONDER IF HELL HAS A BUFFET is an incredibly diverse, organic-sounding project and a genuine labour of love from the underground’s single most important rapper.

Stream the album in full right here.

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