Che Noir & Big Ghost Ltd: Noir or Never: Review

Big Ghost Ltd, an internet blogger and music producer, has had a solid two-week run. First, he delivered solid production for his collab tape with NY rapper Rome Streetz; the following week, he came with another fantastic collaboration, this time with Che Noir. Another raw lyricist making waves from Buffalo, New York, Noir consistently demonstrated the depth of her writing underneath this luscious 90s Hip-Hop flow. It may be niche, comparatively – because of production style – considering the landscape of Hip-Hop through a popular music lens, yet, Noir reminds us that she’s a force to be reckoned with constant output that rarely falters. Noir Or Never continues that outcome with rich lyricism from Noir and her features, along with some good production from Big Ghost Ltd. Noir’s lyrical fortitude matches wits with the best of them. Unfortunately, Noir or Never feels more like a Big Ghost Ltd than a collab album with this abundance of features, and with a short run time doesn’t allow it to leave a stamp following the visceral intro, but it still packs a punch with what they deliver.

Noir Or Never opens with an intimate interview where Che Noir speaks on her influence while bolstering her confidence to remain true to their style (lyricism first) instead of selling out with more popular sonic aesthetics. Within this audio, we hear a slight toward popular hip-hop music that retreads similar themes through surface layer lyricism, never relaying depth beyond what said tracks aim to stylistically deliver. Think songs with the simplicity of “Pop Champagne” by Ron Brownz and how that gets more attention instead of raw lyricism that spreads layers of truths instead of booty bounce hip-hop with little to say. Listen, I’m a sucker for it, and I vibe with the occasional pop-Hip-Hop style music flooding airwaves. Noir and Big Ghost Ltd set this push for bringing light to lyricist dominant Hip-Hop, and though there is, it chooses to bring features to let listeners hear a variety of these artists, but it would have landed better if Noir went at it solo.

Though it misses on having a more significant impact than what we get, it isn’t entirely undermined as the features deliver great verses over modern boom-bap that brings an element of whimsy over the percussion patterns guiding the rhythmic flows. It chooses a different path, and within that path, Noir matches wits with great and established rappers like Ransom, 38 Spesh, Flee Lord, and Skyzoo, to name a few. They come delivering their A-Game and keeping you enthralled by the quality. From the vinyl-scratching bliss of “Brilliance” with Skyzoo & D-Styles to the bass-heavy “Veracruz” with 7xvethegenius, there is a consistent outpouring of greatness. It’s disappointing that they come on a simple throwaway album, especially after her intriguing turn in the self-produced The Last Remnants. They are significant enough that it’s worth a listen, especially with the consistency of some of these established rappers, like Ransom and Skyzoo, the latter of which I praised on his concept album The Mind of A Saint earlier this year.

We do get two solo tracks, which stand out above the rest. “Resilient” and “Low Altitude” beautifully encompass Noir’s resilience to keep growing. The former reflects how it’s been a hustle since a young age, listening to HOV and Foxy Brown, becoming a foundational human striving, and the latter on her push to deliver. She’s rapping about critics who deem her style less appealing in lyrical quality and changing the narrative. The content of the music shifts from introspective reflections to lavish flexes that keep the reminder of her technical potency at bay for listeners. Big Ghost Ltd, having been around the music industry, usually doesn’t falter in establishing beats that don’t over-sizzle despite using some more simple percussion, comparatively, as he masks it beneath these overtures that shine. We get this bleak, twinkly aesthetic with doom-like piano keys contrasting the high pitches from said piano and a bass groove on “Cap Locks,” for example. To distinguish that song’s usage of drums, Big Ghost Ltd shines with the lavishly drum-heavy “Bad Apple,” which incorporates intricate layers of snares, kicks, and hi-hats, with some horns for good measure.

There are a lot of fantastic elements boasting Noir or Never, and it becomes a slight disappointment with some of its decisions. It chooses to take a different direction, and though it’s effective, capping off at 23 minutes makes it run by quickly, not allowing you to digest the music adequately. It moves by swiftly, making you want more but for what you receive there is enough quality to replay, even if you prefer the features to the solo work.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Ché Noir – Food For Thought: Review

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.

Rating: 7 out of 10.