His flows are as simple and predictable as they’ve been from the start of his career, but the quality of voice on Cyhi the Prynce’s Black Hystori Project has deeply increased even from his 2012 mixtape, The Ivy League and 2013’s Ivy League: Kick Back. Cyhi will never blow you away with his lexicon, but his quick quip can switch on any retro rhythm that comes his way and on this, his sixth mixtape, Cyhi came to prove to critics that he is worthy of the major label deal he received back in 2010.
It’s not hard to ascertain that Cyhi had a colossal role in the lyrics of Yeezus; his chopped pace and comfortable pauses come through the speakers throughout this album in a way that sounds like last summer’s Kanye. With that in mind, it seems as if Cy is coming into his own and this could be his year to truly emerge as on of G.O.OD. Music’s premier artist. He doesn’t hone a mainstream sound that people (perhaps even Kayne) want to hear from him in order to become a household name, but this mixtape is a healthy dose of street dream lyricism and a solid preview of what is to come in the approaching months for Cyhi, who just may become the surprise artist of the year.
The lyrical bolster throughout the album shows a great leap in maturity for the Georgia-raised rapper. Fans expected him to come into his own – especially after his strong performance on Kanye’s “So Appalled” a few years back – but he seemed to drift out of the flash of limelight as quickly as he entered, only managing to produce mixtapes. However, it is audibly clear that Cyhi is transforming from an artist that would only rap about his luck with the ladies, to songs that hold thoughtful and well-delivered verses that vary in message from the struggle, to the influential, to tributes to the men that have entered the public spotlight before him. He brings the social issues and the men that have risen from them to attention throughout the album, as he does to the crack epidemic in “Barry White”, and carries a chip in his voice on tracks titled after black influents like “Huey (Newton)”, “Basquiat”, or “Mandela”.
Cyhi brings critiques to attention throughout the album, calling out the apparent paranoia of being labelled a rapper that perhaps lacks lyrical content. During his career at G.O.O.D. Music, he’s been lurking behind the scenes, putting out solid mixtapes, but nothing quite substantial enough to produce an LP, while artists with a more mainstream delivery (Big Sean, Kid Cudi, Pusha T) have hit that sweet sound that translates into popular and often-played music. He appears at times, in this album, to take those snubs personally and brings his rapping ability to the forefront of songs like “Huey” as he claims, “My lyrics are like Leviticus to underprivileged / I make music for the world, / you make music for a stripper bitch.” But Cyhi sees opportunities in other songs to brush away any lyrical cares and appears content with whatever he puts out. “So I don’t care if you think my songs are hot or not. Cause I don’t do this shit for ya’ll, I do this shit for Basquiat,” he states on the chorus of the aptly titled track, “Basquiat”.
Cyhi is an artist that caters to the beat he speaks on. If it is a tough, urban-heavy feel, Cyhi is going to come after the mic with a vengeance, but with songs like “Basquiat”, with lighter, jazzy, soul-like instrumentals, he’s going to give listeners carefree lyrics while continuing his compact rhyme schemes. He still carries his form with the raw approach he’s always toted, but it is clear that he’s trying to make a more mainstream sound, an effort that may be accredited to his forthcoming LP Hardway Musical, which is scheduled to be released sometime this year.