Album: “God Don’t Make Mistakes”
Artists: Conway the Machine
Label: Shady Records, Griselda Records
Release Date: Feb. 25
From the opening notes of the introductory track, “Lock Load,” it’s clear that if any one word could be used to describe Buffalo rapper Conway the Machine’s latest album, “God Don’t Make Mistakes,” it would be gritty.
As cinematic as ever, Conway’s lyricism is on point, evoking “Scarface” with a pinch of “New Jack City” in this tale of crime and betrayal.
This is, without question, the Buffalonian’s best project to date, exemplified quickly on the second track, “Tear Gas.” Assisted by excellent verses from veterans Rick Ross and Lil Wayne, Conway outshines both artists right off the bat with stories of a man backed into a corner:
“I’m just tryna keep my head above the water, my feet on solid ground / Post traumatic stress disorder got me smokin’ out a pound / Heard a n—- say he gon’ do something to me, how that sound? / Anybody get out of bounds, Shots gon’ come and knock him down.”
No album would be complete without a fitting cover, and the cover of “God Don’t Make Mistakes” is as fitting as covers come, featuring a classic transaction with a man decked in camouflage against a house that all but implies exactly what this sort of transaction entails.
Never one to forget his roots, Conway’s hard-as-nails persona is perfectly encapsulated on the appropriately titled “Piano Love.” Across a dark beat, the rapper successfully blends reflection of his progress while still reminding listeners that his is absolutely not to be crossed.
“Hood n—s still eat the ramen noodles / That load cost an extra five if I got it to you / We the mob, you violate that, I gotta shoot you / Send some rockets through you, hollow tips poppin’ to you.”
The album does anything but reinvent the wheel, but that’s not bad in this case. Continuing to push the trademark 1990s NYC-influenced style Conway and his fellow Griselda members have been establishing for years, Conway sounds at the top of his game, mastering the style once and for all.
One of the LP’s most outside-the-box tracks is none other than “Wild Chapters,” which is especially eerie for one of the eeriest produced albums of the year. Along a grimmer-than-the-reaper beat, Conway, Novel and rap icon T.I. each deliver original, easy on the ear verses along with a beautiful chorus courtesy of Novel that perfectly compliments the Hit-Boy produced beat:
[Novel:] “I’m so fried all day / On my grind always / Seen some foul, foul times / In this wild, wild life / And I ain’t even trippin’, no / Since the world we live in is so cold.”
The album’s best collaboration comes in the form of “John Woo Flick,” an anthem of badassery from the likes of Conway and Buffalo brethren Benny the Butcher and Westside Gunn. Equipped with a beat from Kill and Daringer so cool Samuel L. Jackson would stop in awe, the Griselda crew raps like rent is due, finding time to reference multiple NBA teams, Wu-Tang Clan and even personality Wayne Brady. Each member of the crew gives it his all, reminding longtime fans that the trio have some of the best chemistry in not just hip-hop, but music as a whole.
[Benny the Butcher:] “I swing this MAC, I’m clearin’ the fences / Enough shooters on my team to embarrass the Pistons / The trap empty, all I had, kitchenware and a biscuit / I need a pile of dirty cash and somewhere I can rinse it.”
Unquestionably the best solo track on the album, “Stressed” shows a vulnerable side of Conway not often seen, where he talks about mental health and the struggles of life in Buffalo:
“The bullsh-t in life, everybody go through that / But it’s a lesson in it all, you gotta grow through that / I was down bad and broke, but I wrote through that / Felt my problems would go away if I could blow through rap / Dutch Master, smoke the whole two packs / This kind of stress, I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to go through that / My cousin, he took a cord and put his throat through that / I wish I had a chance to tell a n—a, ‘Don't do that’ / Uh, n—as don’t understand depression is real / People stressin’ ‘bout real life shit, you stressin’ your bills.”
To close out the album, title track “God Don’t Make Mistakes” contains a heartfelt voicemail from the artist’s mother, Annette Price, but not before a savory psychedelic beat from The Alchemist and an extra long verse courtesy of Conway, which caps off the album in the smoothest of fashions.
Arguably the best rap album so far this year, “God Don’t Make Mistakes” is just another exceptional project in the discography of Buffalo hip-hop, once again raising the impossibly high standards Conway and his peers continue to set.
Alex Falter is the senior arts editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alex Falter is a senior arts editor at The Spectrum.