By: Trevaris Hardy

Last year, the J. Cole-led record label, Dreamville Records, released its sophomore collaborative project, “Revenge of the Dreamers II.” The album features Dreamville acts, J. Cole, Omen, Cozz and the promising new MC, Bas. Although he released his debut album, “Last Winter,” back in 2014, Bas hasn’t been in the spotlight and is still relatively new to the rap game. Bas’ sophomore album, “Too High To Riot” (THTR), could possibly launch him to the same level of prominence as Cole and put Dreamville Records on the map with the likes of other rap collectives such as OVO and YMCM.

The album begins with the title track, “Too High To Riot,” a chill, introspective song that sets the mood and overall theme for the album. The most interesting parts of this song, and the album as a whole, are the production and the subtle textures like the rain sounds, the bird’s chirping, and the instrumentals like the strings and synthesizers. Although many of the beats sound similar, every track feels like something new, adding to the imagery being painted throughout. What sticks out the most, however, is “Night Job” featuring J. Cole; a song that appeared on ROFTD II and makes the entire album worth listening to.

No theme has ever been too dark for Dreamville rappers, in fact, J. Cole’s albums are known to be on the more socially conscience spectrum of rap, so it comes as no surprise when the up-and-coming Bas covers sensitive topics in THTR. Most of the subject matter in the album deals with the MC’s personal hardships in New York much like his album, “Last Winter,” where he draws on the metaphor for winter to say how cold, figuratively and literally, the streets are. In the melancholy “Methylone,” he opens with “good things don’t happen to good people,” alluding to the death of his cousin. Although there are times when Bas mentions sex and money, the album is mostly introspective and discusses death, family struggle and drug abuse.

Two years have passed since we heard a solo album from Bas and the wait was well worth it. THTR has some of the best production I’ve heard in a while, even better than Cole’s critically acclaimed “2014 Forest Hills Drive,” and definitely has more replay value. If this album isn’t nominated next year, I’m boycotting the Grammy Awards. I give “Too High To Riot” 5 out of 5 owls.