There aren’t many individualized locations with hip-hop scenes as prosperous as LA County, Fulton County, and New York City, to name a few; however, there have been some that have enough noise to produce talented rappers that have become part of our musical rotation. Philadelphia produced Memphis Bleek and Freeway; Portland has given us Amine, Illmaculate, The Last Artful, Dodgers, but then there is Buffalo, New York, whose dormancy finally ended with a boom of rappers emerging, like Armani Ceaser and Benny, the Butcher. Amongst others from Buffalo, the continuous stride of these rappers has kept my ears close to the play button, but Ché Noir takes a huge slice. Ché Noir first caught my ear with her collaboration with Detroit producer Apollo Brown, and since one could say I’ve been a fan. Food For Thought continues to prove that, as Ché delivers righteous and detailed bars – on top of bars – with wicked rhyme schemes and old soul flow.
Food For Thought is a minimal step back for Ché Noir, conceptually. She holds back from delivering layers of riotous and provocative lyricism in exchange for a complex vision of the now and future based on past lessons. It isn’t a problem for Ché since it won’t dissuade fans who are used to her direct-heavy hitting and colorful flows, but as it rounds out, you hear some lyrical repetition. Though these introspective raps aren’t lacking from intricate rhyme schemes, and there is no sugarcoating it – opening with “Splitting the Bread,” Ché makes it known that she is ready to bring lyrical heaters. She raps, “Bitch, I rap better than thesе niggas, do not compare me/These bars give you food for thought, this shit is like commissary/A lot to carry, shot, buried,” with virtuoso and confidence that it makes up for those heel turns that remind us to stay grounded.
These heel turns show as Food For Thought progresses – for example, on the track “Bless The Food,” Ché Noir delivers a message to us about her keys to success through spoken freeform prose and verse. In the song, she raps: “Look, Tattoos on my ribs, a bible scripture I always knew what God had for me/I’m still fighting demons, shit like mortal combat to me/Fuck friends, I need more shooters,” reflecting on the contrasting dualities between the ideals of friends and people who’d ride or die for you. I mean that wholeheartedly. “Friend” is a loose term, but someone who’d help you hide a body or run into a gun battle with you. She doesn’t create overflow with the heavy-introspective raps and offers enough complex bars to keep you in a free-flow meditative state. It reflects with the skits that give us a reflection of her beliefs and her methods for success.
The production sounds off without being conscious of which song is currently playing. It is a slight detriment as it maneuvers through having one cohesive sound with its boom-bap style, DJ scratches, and energy. That modern and darker approach to boom-bap retains its spirit, but it becomes muddled due to its poor sonic consistencies, specifically in the percussion. There is minimal elevation on Ché Noir’s flows, and it tends to make a few songs underwhelming, especially when it does so similarly for the featured artists. It isn’t to push down, or disrespect the quality of the production, as the sound does come off clean and finished, but sometimes I, unconsciously, miss the features within the simplicity. Fortunately, we aren’t getting hindered in the final product; it meshes with Che’s style – others like Rome Streetz and Ransom assimilate compared to slight deviations from their style, especially Ransom.
Ultimately, Ché Noir is barely against the ropes, inclining to prove to us her hunger to succeed in the hip-hop game. There is no doubt she has a slight struggle since her style isn’t the hot-topic we get from many STAR-like Hip-Hop artists. But she’s an emcee willing to dig into the trenches and get her hands dirty instead of letting the backend guide them to the bigger stage. Her flows guide her, and we will see her conquer bigger stages. It’s the kind that oozes through your ears as it warps you to that authentic hip-hop old heads have been claiming for more with the rise of melodic trap rap.
Food For Thought is like many introspective hip-hop projects, offering little difference; however, Che Noir has enough firepower to keep your interest. It has a steady progression that your ears never tire within the 35 minutes, and there is something new to take out of it. It leaves me excited for what she has next in the pot, stirring and steaming, waiting to get served in a golden bowl.