My anticipation for FORWARD MOTION! began around a month ago, upon the release of the uber-melodic, piano-led piece ‘TRAPPED’ alongside similarly minded lyrical voice sameflannel. Sporting a feature on the project’s sole single was a bold move for Elijah, who handles the other eight tracks solo, but one that paid off enormously and represented two rappers at the absolute top of their class. Indeed, producer cleexshay is one of the defining shapers of the project’s sound, as he also crafts the immaculate beat found on opener ‘ADÉU!’. ‘It’s been three years since I talked to you, you talk a lot too often but never tell the truth’, he croons through a thin gauze of effects. As well as being a skilled rapper, the artist frequently reaches impressive peaks as a singer and this colossal opener is evidence of such accomplishments.
Another key beat contributor is Niko, who works wonders on the organic, quasi-jazz sounds of ‘GLOW!’ and the cloudier ‘THINKINBOUTYOU!’. Both songs explore the vast scale of emotional comprehension in the rapper’s music, the former is dismissive and self-inflated, the latter reflective and more than a little vulnerable. However, it is quite clearly Tyydeku that is the best fit for Elijah’s range of flows, he perfectly complements the rapper’s tendencies to unleash unseen techniques and to keep the listener on their toes. An absolute monster on ‘NOT YOU!’, the rapper is constantly at battle with the glimmering production, his bars skimming the beat gently like a stone making soft, beautiful ripples in a pool of light. His most interesting lyrical moment is here too: ‘Keep my name out your mouth, you might just choke. I’m not you I could never be broke’, proclaiming himself as one of the best in his class of young, talented artists using hip-hop as an expressive tool.
Although he has released plenty of music up to this point, FORWARD MOTION! is the set of songs that Elijah desperately needed to make. Every track is melodically proficient, aided by an expert cast of producers and collaborators, and quite clearly the product of months of hard work and dedication. As a songwriter, he proves his worth right out the gate and as a rapper, he’s doing it better and with more enthusiasm than a lot of people making music this all-encompassing.
Listen to the album in full here.