Griselda Records continues to dominate rap with an unrelenting string of menacing downtempo albums. The Haitian-American rapper, Mach-Hommy, marks his return to the collective with a record saturated in afro-jazz influences. Pray For Haiti is a stellar addition to Griselda’s boom bap revival, taking it further into seldom unexplored territory. While poverty and crime aren’t unfamiliar topics for the Buffalo based label, Mach-Hommy’s angle is headier, offering a loftier perspective in comparison. The jagged lines of the album’s artwork speak to the sketchbook quality of the record as a whole. Bruised horn samples and sludgy drums drag you progressively deeper into the plight of a neglected nation. A few audio clips offer some extra context for the country in question, “Letta Yo (Skit)” being a standout in this case. The youthful burst of Haitian Creole briefly captures the sound of Haiti from the ground floor. Westside Gunn’s curation crafts a delicate frame around Mach-Hommy’s muted chaos.
The swampy trumpet on “The 26th Letter” is an abrasive juxtaposition right off the bat. The wobbly bop is propelled by Gunn’s trademark ad-libs and Hommy’s raspy drawl. His slick lyricism is on display instantly, “Mach-Hommy is an icon, ‘end quote’, This gon’ be the year I get my python trench coat.” The saturated soul sample of “Kriminel” and molasses slow hook complement Hommy’s fluid dictation perfectly. Pray For Haiti basks in the simple spoils of properly pairing textures; Mach-Hommy’s eclectic wordplay floats nicely above the haunting production. Hommy eagerly occupies the nebulous space above the bullshit on, “Magnum Band (feat. Tha God Fahim)”. Here, in the space before his verse, he speaks for his peers who implore him to, “come down from Mt. Olympus.” The subsequent verse is less opaque than his other ones but still, Hommy seldom surrenders his quirky territory.
To put it simply, Mach-Hommy confidently occupies both sides of the cultural aisle. While “The Stellar Ray Theory” is an abstract play on the sun and rain, “Murder Czn Feat. Westside Gunn” and “Blockchain” are much more forthright with their topics. The latter is somewhat groan worthy and completely dismissible from the record. Pray For Haiti accomplishes what many records tend to lose sight of, and that’s take you somewhere. Remarkable records have the ability to transport the listener to a particular time and place, and Pray For Haiti is no different with its jaded, yet tropical perspective.