The atmospheric aspect of this album in itself lifts the project quite distinctly away from the bulk of recent hip-hop releases. The opening beat featured on Control comes through as organically heavy, the soundscape has been crafted with audio snippets and various samples that give off an energetic yet occasionally quite minimalist feel. On top of the music of course is Marcus Alexander’s voice and lyricism – the driving force behind the artistry.
The performance on this first song is intense, attention grabbing and manic, lifting the energy up high and quite relevantly taking control of the whole situation by making you feel all the more inclined to listen fully. It’s a short track, and All For Show is really the first full-length recording, at which point the smoothness settles in, the confidence comes into its own, and you start to get a genuine feel for the musicality and the ideas of the artist.
Marcus Alexander raps to tell stories, to say things that haven’t been said. His songwriting has a classic and nostalgic feel to it for the most part, bringing back the passionate and intelligent elements of hip-hop – the emotion, the poetry, the integrity, the flow. The music varies from the jazz-cafe style to the more haunting, darker hip-hop inspired, and with every development his personality and skill continue to shine brightly.
From Basic Rappers through to The Gambler, you find yourself captivated by the expression. Not only are the lyrics compelling, the performance is exactly this – a performance – far from a simple rhythmic reading of words on a page. The stories hit with intent, which makes you believe them – it makes you hang on every word and have faith in the rapper’s ability to both entertain and provoke thought. As is often the case with impressive rap flows that offer something new and interesting, a single listen is not enough. Suited Up Vol. 1 easily earns the right to remain in the long term playlists of hip-hop fans everywhere.
Variety-wise there’s a fair bit displayed throughout the collection, though the vibe remains fairly consistent – this fusion of the calm and sultry backdrop with the high energy, fast paced lyricism. There’s a seductive aura to the musicality, and a motivational, characterful undertone to the performances. Here We Go Again features a melodic hook alongside of a saxophone and everything you’ve come to appreciate about the artist up until this point.
Hover High smooths things out again; the backdrop is less chaotic, there’s a delicacy to it, an emotional drive, a level of soul – it comes as well placed within the collection. There’s a sense of space surrounding the ideas here, the melodic and the spoken word meet effectively and you barely notice the switch from on to the other – hence the smoothness, the consistency of the mood. This track is a personal highlight. The finish is sublime, and something about this array of instrumentation, plus the concept, and the sound of Marcus’ voice – it all makes for a winning few minutes of music.
Sperm Donor keeps the smokey jazz bar vibe alive, though the story telling here, the literal reference to story time, the compelling delivery of these events, makes certain your mind isn’t drifting off into the ambiance – it’s focused intently on the scenes that unfold. As the penultimate track on the project it becomes apparent that this is all about to be over. There’s plenty of room for expansion, though the wiser artists know to leave you wanting more rather than to risk overstaying their welcome.
The final track is Battle Cry, and it’s everything the title implies. The intensity, the drama, the darkness, the passion – all of this combined makes for a striking and deeply motivational closing moment. At merely 8 tracks long, Suited Up Vol. 1 is easy to listen to on repeat. The great thing about it is of course that the Vol. 1 aspect implies there’s a whole lot more to come. The speed at which Marcus delivers these stories is immense, but it’s not overwhelming; it compels you to listen back, listen again and again, and each time you do – nothing disappoints. A creatively intelligent and deeply expressive artist, well worth paying attention to.