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Solomon Samuel Simone

Seattle hip-hop blog 206UP picked this record as one of the “Top 10 Albums of 2013,” saying that:

Raz’s debut EP, Solomon Samuel Simone, is only five tracks in length, but it contains more raw emotion and harrowed despair than most records three times its length. That’s all due to the MC who claims he was once told his raspy voice would be his undoing as a hip-hop artist. That voice has become Raz’s official calling card, and he uses it to deliver lyrical body blows about a street life as tenuous as a knife balanced on edge-point.

On “Sometimes I Don’t”, Raz recites a laundry list of bad behavior that he sometimes engages in, and other times he intentionally walks away from. This rapper contains multitudes and, like Pac before him, his most provocative trait is often the massive contradictions contained in his rhymes. Occasionally those artists come along whom you can tell would benefit, emotionally, from escaping the confines of their own minds. Raz reminds me of that type. The hard lesson in hip hop is that it would be a much less interesting place if artists like him truly found that liberation.

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Drive Theory

“The idea of Drive Theory is that everyone and everything is born with intrinsic needs,” says Raz Simone. The Music Essentials site describes this project as “a dynamic showcase of Simone’s musical and lyrical prowess.” The Hype Magazine says it’s “a deep dive into Raz’s inner monologue, revealing intensely personal experiences over hard-hitting beats,” while Hot New Hip-Hop says it “serves reflective bars about the street life over beautiful production.” Perhaps Respect My Region says it best: “This record is a master class in gangster rap.”

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Cognitive Dissonance: Part II

First off, a major shout out to Jake Crocker, preternatural producer and secret weapon of Black Umbrella Music. His stark symphonic backdrops on 2014’s Cognitive Dissonance, Part II are enchanting and luxe; the perfect accompaniment to Raz Simone’s elegant storytelling and robust vocabulary. Raz punctuates the narratives with worthwhile meditations on the questionable value of pursuing money at the expense of time and natural resources. This is a record of cinematic characters, of listening to a theatrical play, evocative of a mood and a place, and a plot, the listener lounging in plush seats as the house lights dim. I’d love to see Strawberry Theatre Workshop mount this album at 12 Ave Arts as a play.

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Cognitive Dissonance

Master of the acapella verse, it’s no surprise that the cover of Raz Simone‘s Cognitive Dissonance depicts him as a lone figure against Rembrandt chiaroscuro. The first cut, “They’ll Speak,” is epic. This is serious, activist rap; laid-back with soft beats you want to bob your head to.

Seattle hip-hop blog 206UP picked this record as one of the “Top 10 Albums of 2014,” saying that:

Raz Simone pushes weight both emotional and narcotic on this ten-track LP, the first release behind the rapper’s headline-making deal with Lyor Cohen’s 300 Entertainment. Raz’s point-of-view is clouded by contradictions, hence the album’s title, but his singular focus on stardom and stacking chips makes it impossible to not watch his every move.

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