The Love is Back
The Love is Back begins with a sample heavy beat that prepares the listener for an onslaught from a promising voice in Fort Wayne hip-hop. From the very opening lines, Roleo’s honesty bleeds through. In order to set the record straight from the start, the MC criticizes greedy labels for squeezing the love out of hip-hop and promises its return. This sentiment is a constant throughout the album’s tracks, including “Make Ya Head Nod,” the first song on the album and one that features a fellow Fort Wayne rapper.
Comparisons to mainstream rappers like Kanye West and Lil’ Wayne find their way into “That Ain’t My Style,” but Roly spends the chorus explaining that he’s into making money through hard work over drugs and violence. Overall, the artist sounds like a good dude: hard-working and socially aware. But don’t think Roly’s all nice guy. When it comes to bragging on style and skill, this MC spends most of tracks like “Live From the U.G.” and “Swagga” describing his proficiency.
Other songs reference mainstream rap, but Roly firmly identifies himself with the underground on several tracks, throwing out references to his hometown that include shout-outs to local rappers and even popular hangouts around the Fort. To be clear, though, The Love is Back doesn’t sound like an average local release, and, love to Fort Wayne and all, this is a very good thing. There’s a reason for the out-of-the-ordinary beats: every track features the high quality sample work of Atlanta-based producer Illastrate. Bouncy bass lines glide over soul samples and steady drum beats, occasionally punctuated by turntable scratches.
In the end the listener is left with an impression of Roleo’s dedication to his craft and his hometown. The Love is Back sounds professional and full of potential. Brag-time and self-props aside, Roly comes across as an honest and well intentioned rapper. Add expert beats underneath the rhymes and killer vocals from featured guest Juan Los and you’ve got a very solid release from an up-and-coming local MC. (C. Ray Harvey)
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