UR is not known for its rappers. Research, yes. Rappers, no. It’s probably safe to say that we’re not alone. Despite some notable exceptions (Kanye West, J. Cole, Lil Wayne), hip-hop has never really been a product of academia and rarely embraces it as typical subject matter. UR’s own Ahzay, on the other hand, is not the typical rapper, and his debut release “The Routine: A Long Story Short” is not the typical rap album.

There are no hookers, no gun violence, and no hardcore drug peddling. “The Routine” stays true to its title: it’s evident from the onset that this is an honest album about the collegiate weekly grind, and this isn’t a rapper trying to be someone he’s not.  “The Routine” is a concept album, not about the cycle of violence in the slums, but about the ultra-relatable study-party-regret cycle of the average undergrad.

Ahzay manages to strike a balance on “The Routine” by tying fun, party-rap singles like “uLike” and “Show Me” in with a serious overarching album theme: regrets about overindulgence. This is the same delicate combo Kendrick Lamar nailed on “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City”, and the unnamed character we follow on “Routine” faces a similar reality to Kendrick’s: throughout all the partying and debauchery, there remains a gravitation towards religion; he is forced to face the hypocrisy of being a “Sunday Christian” firsthand.

The fact that “The Routine” was produced by a plethora of individuals aids it in avoiding what might plague many homegrown rap efforts: redundancy. The different creative visions of the respective producers on the album make for no stale beats and no soggy sampling.

For an amateur rapper, Ahzay’s vocal style is remarkably established and at times bears hints of spooky resemblance to the greats—Kanye in particular—which is all the more impressive when you discover that “The Routine” was recorded predominantly in dorm rooms around UR. The album is a genuine celebration of campus talent, and features so many contributions from UR musicians that its track list seems more like the lineup of a Meliora Weekend performance than a solo rap album.

And it’s not just the local artistry that should make the album so relatable to UR students. Throughout the album Ahzay makes references to subjects that should be all too familiar for the average UR student. Notably, he draws parallels between the female physique and polynomials (“More curves than a calc class”) and on “All Nighter,” probably one of the only rap songs ever recorded about studying, he name drops Webwork of all things.

At the end of the fourteen-track romp, Ahzay offers his gratitude; while confirming our suspicions; we’ve been immersed in a true-to-life college experience: “For all of you who were able to make it through, I thank you, because you lived my life for sixty minutes.”

“The Routine” can be streamed at www.Ahzay.com. Check out Ahzay live at Boulder Coffee on April 11th, and on May 23rd at the California brew Haus at 7:00 pm.

Fraumeni is a member of the class of 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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