The hardest worker in the underground, LZA has surpassed all expectations by releasing not one but two projects in the four months since 2020 began. Although he may be best known as a member of the now disbanded BMB Deathrow collective, LZA’s success as an artist has always existed completely separately to his participation in collectives. Although he works with other ex-BMB members (Loko Los, Krxxk, 4Jay) on his new mixtape Shock the World, the nimbly-flowing rapper simultaneously demonstrates that his talent, charisma and work ethic are what have led to his success and placed him leagues above many of his contemporaries.
On ‘Tru 2 Da Game’, which thrives early in the tracklist thanks to a bone-chilling production performance from Loko, LZA states: ‘BMB over but I’m still going in’. This is an announcement not only of LZA’s intent to not be defined by group membership, but a statement of his ambition to continue dropping quality rap music as the year continues. And indeed, for LZA to drop the aptly titled Shock the World a mere two months after Big Shynxe is characteristic of his endlessly productive work rate. Only a few of these are technically ‘new’, as various tracks including the intense ‘Tear It Up’ served as singles in the run up to this project.
LZA has proved his worth as an artist countless times over the last four to five years, but this was mainly done on standalone tracks or on shorter offerings like Shyne Till I Die. To hear such a well-composed, structured set of songs from one of the underground’s finest is enormously gratifying, and it shows that the rapper’s music has never been in a better place. A lot of credit must be given to the production team too, especially the contributions of LZA’s newest collaborator Zerosuit. Zero has a huge influence on the sound of Shock the World, working on beats for two tracks and applying his nightmarish mixing skills to a third.
LZA’s throwback aesthetic (which pays homage to late nineties/early 2000’s rap icons like Master P/No Limit Records and Hot Boys/Cash Money Records) has always made an immense amount of sense when considering the rapper’s prioritisation of the sound of his voice, and in turn the personality that shines through, over the complexity of his delivery. That’s not to say that he isn’t an excellent rapper, at multiple points on this project he genuinely surprised me with quite how impressive his flows were. ‘Fear Nun’ is his most savage song yet, perfectly blending a vicious delivery with a drill-like flow and mocking lyrics. Shock the World exhibits every strength that you could possibly want from an underground hip-hop project and then some, and if you’re in some way unfamiliar with LZA an artist now is a perfect time to change that.
Listen to the project in full here.
– Chris (@108mics)