California’s Gabriel pours his heart and soul into this project, leading with every required building block to connect – pristine production, impressive bars and impeccable story-telling, plus a defiant sense of realism and vulnerability. No Rest kicks things off and is all of this, a brilliant start to the Promises EP.
The project’s title-track follows and introduces a feature from CEE1K. With the exception of the later song Maybach, this is a notable highlight. Everything from the progression and structure, allowing certain moments to hit with immense impact, to the melodic embrace, the vocal variety, and the poetic story-telling, just works beautifully in this setting.
Afterwards, Everyday leads with a piano-part and contrasting bass-line. By now, Gabriel’s tone and faultless meandering through various bars and flows is instantly familiar; as is his lyrical integrity. The sound is incredibly on point in terms of contemporary hip hop and RnB, but it’s also refreshingly authentic, new, and interesting. All that’s missing is a few music videos to binge through as an addicted fan.
With Maybach, things mellow out all the more so – a heavy bass-line juxtaposed by gentle finger-picking and an increasingly emotional vocal. Another EP highlight, the heartbreaking truthfulness and musicality of this track really hit home. Slowly but surely Gabriel showcases himself to be far more of an artist than simply a rapper or performer.
Bringing things to a finish is the jazz-kissed ambiance of Sacrifices. The conceptual entirety of PROMISES comes full circle, moving through struggle to regret to fragments of possibility. This final track kicks in with a slightly more hopeful groove, a lightness, and a quickly infectious hook. The RnB flavor stands tall, and brings things to a brilliantly memorable end. The vocal movement from lower to higher moments, quiet to passionate, is also decidedly impressive.
For the hip hop and RnB fans who crave something real, well-crafted yet honest and which speaks to the deeper parts of the human experience, PROMISES more than fits the part. Hopefully there’s more music to come.