Self Suffice has the five tools in his arsenal every aspiring rapper should when seeking coverage on a hip-hop website: humbleness, patience, professionalism, politeness, and references. He started out with the last one by telling me he had heard about RapReviews through his friends Ceschi and Icon the Mic King. Suffice politely suggested that we might be interested in covering his new album available through Amazon.com. He wasn't put off by our disclaimer that not every album we're contacted about or sent can be covered, and stayed patient as our dialogue continued sporadically over a few months. Above all Suffice stayed humble. He never once suggested his project was more important than any other album we had to cover or took any umbrage if we put reviewing his work on the back burner. There's no chip on Suffice's shoulder, no inflated sense of ego, just a desire to shine.
Having all those attributes can get any rapper a foot in the door, but certainly doesn't guarantee what's going to be written afterward. I wish I could tell readers that there's a one to one correlation where everybody that's humble and respectful drops a classic, and every mid-major to corporate self-assured cocky asshole dropped utter shit. Life is always far more complicated than that. Nice guys drop gems, but they can also be unfailingly polite to the point you have to put a foot down and say that skills need to come first before you review more of their work. Conversely a lot of rappers who walk around gassed up are almost as good as they think they are, and in rare cases BETTER. The worst of all scenarios is the incredibly conceited who are incredibly shitty. You can put all their bullshit aside and be totally professional in a review, scoring them exactly on the merits or lack thereof for their work, and still get accused of hating. Or when you're the editor as I am, you get the angry e-mail saying your writer "doesn't get where I'm coming from." Perhaps YOU didn't get how to express it dunn.
By this point in the review I strongly suspect Suffice is reading each word on pins and needles, waiting to see where I stand on his album with Mez titled "The Manhattanites Present Manhattan Night." Do I think he's humble and talented? Do I think he's a nice guy with a bad album? Is he finally going to get a review after all this time only to get ripped to the reams? Relax Self, you're in the clear. I'm happy to tell both him and the rest of you reading this review it's one of those rare cases where humility and talent coincide. I can't say that they coincide PERFECTLY or that there isn't room for improvement, but let's start with the positives first.
All of the beats on "Manhattan Night" were produced by Young Cee of Khemistry, and he's got a knack for sounds that aren't unpleasant to the ear. "Which Way" has a bubbling bass in in the background, just the right amount of static cracking on the track, and clean (albeit uncomplicated) drums. "Motivation" is an uncanny knock off for early "Doe or Die" era AZ beats. "Get Free!" could be a worn out cliche for every police and government conspiracy in the wrong hands, but the pianos combine with drums and a wailing blues singer in harmony. "Break Down" is a dead ringer for Dead Prez - if you weren't paying attention you might think you skipped to their music at random. The title track of "Manhattan Night" distorts a little on some of the keys and could have been EQ'd better, but it has that Camp Lo "Cooley High" feel that anybody who grew up on 1990's hip-hop is going to love. Peep a few of Self Suffice's verbals on the track:
"Self, Suffice, Self Self Suffice
Ain't nuttin like the bright inner city lights
It be like, if we took a trip through universe, usin sound
Lights seem musical at night, how they move around
Like the Most High, threw the stars down to the ground
due to us pollutin the sky, now that's so profound
Over the East River, I'm strollin with my soulmate
Under the Brooklyn Bridge, lit up like a stove flame
When you go to take a midnight snack and the lights out
And your kitchen pitch back, like that"
That's what really takes the short "Manhattan Night" (10 songs and under 40 minutes) to the next level - the evocative lyrical descriptiveness of Mez in general and Self Suffice in particular. It's not to say that his partner can't hold his own, but Suffice seems to have that little something extra so many good to great emcees have - natural flow. It's not arrogant in any way. Suffice just makes a flow that's probably carefully considered and meticulously written SOUND like it was easily conceived and effortlessly delivered. There are ways that "Manhattan Night" is rough around the edges, but Self's flow tends to not be one of them. "Angelic" is a bit corny, and even though there's a clear story being told on "Come On In" I'm not sure after multiple listens whether it's misogynistic or just a man plain fed up with taking shit from his girl. Ultimately it might be a little of both. I also don't get the point of listing two bonus tracks then not TITLING either of them. Those things aside "The Manhattanites Present Manhattan Night" was worth the wait and I hope Suffice feels the same way about his long due review.
Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7 of 10
Originally posted: May 3rd, 2011