Here at Repulsive Reviews, I tend to stick to what I know best; I’ve been reviewing horror flicks for years now. Even still, I’ve been known to venture into other genres and even other forms of media, too. This time, I’m doing something totally different, with my first full-fledged album review. While this isn’t the first one I’ve ever done, it certainly is the first that I am presenting here on the site.
If you are here just for horror content, I completely understand. We are, after all, a site that claims to specialize in brutal and unadulterated horror. With that said, if you would like to leave now, before proceeding, I get it. If, however, you want to learn about something and someone who would otherwise remain undiscovered by you, read on and get schooled.
These are my thoughts on Smoke Break’s sophomore record release, Full Flavor.
Nebraska emcees Mike Fantastik and Morgan are no strangers to making music. The two have been releasing albums, whether solo or in other group settings, for years now. It wasn’t until 2012, after countless tours together, that the fellow rappers joined forces. From common goals and aspirations, Smoke Break was born.
Full Flavor starts off with a quick introductory prayer. Instead of praising the Lord above, though, we are greeted with a prayer addressed to the one and only Andrew W.K. This intro track is a perfect way to kick things off and allow listeners to get in the proper state of mind for their impending musical journey.
After our prayer session is over, we are hit with the upbeat “Boyz R Back in Town,” which officially states the duo’s return to the rap game. With lyrics of needing the brief hiatus after their debut album, 2014’s Ruckus As Always, this track is a refreshing take, no pun intended, on the “hey, look, we’re back; You’d better watch out” bravado from that comes from the typical emcee(s).
“The Break is Over,” like the previous track, features a back and forth approach — instead of the two wordsmiths taking their respective turns with a traditional 16 bar verse, a couple of bars is all that is needed until the next one jumps back in. The track features Pennsylvania rapper, Schoolly D, as the album’s first collaboration.
The album continues on until we are met with a track that actually does feature some horror film references. I know I said this really had nothing to do with horror earlier, but some lyrics in “That’s Me” actually prove me wrong.
Smoke Break are releasing Full Flavor on a label called Cutthroat Productions. The label, as a whole, is most known for releasing horror-themed rap records by founding group, Kryptik, and solo material from label runner, Komatose. Being so closely associated with Komatose, it’s no surprise to hear both Mike and Morgan referencing some popular horror tiles in this track that happens to also feature a verse from Koma, himself.
Tracks six and seven, entitled “Science” and “Therapy” respectively, dive back into the positive vibe approach that we were hit with upon listening to the first few tracks. Rhymes urging people to live their dream, to seize the moment, and to keep stepping forward are a wonderful refrain from the general message portrayed in most hip hop songs that the youth of today are accustomed to hearing.
While “Therapy” is a more dark look into the minds of the spitting duo than “Science,” they both deal with similar concepts. We all have negative thoughts in our heads from time to time. It isn’t unusual to have your own form of release from those not-so-joyous moments. For these guys, music is their form of release, their therapy. They’ve just decided to share it with us.
While Fantastik and Morgan refer to their style as Punk Rap, true elements of hip hop are still very present. This 15 track album features a myriad of head-bobbing entries. Songs like “3D” featuring Strawstone and “Molotovs” are perfectly placed at the middle of the album and are real bangers, great ways to make sure you’re still paying attention.
Full Flavor rolls on with more real-life motivation with tracks like “Down in the Dirt” and “Light Work.” Dealing with relatable concepts like difficult relationships or lack of motivation, I am confident that these songs will really be felt by a lot of listeners. When Morgan and Mike are saying that if they can do it, so can you, they truly mean it and are really hoping to inspire their fans.
As we wind down this 48 minute album, we are hit with a track that has been released as the album’s single, “Come Harder.” This one is another collaborative effort. This time, fans are hit with a verse from actor and funny-man rapper, Riff Raff. This is an overall fun track and, I believe, the best choice as the CD’s featured single.
As an official closer to Full Flavor, we are hit with a remixed version of the titular track. Differing from the track four version, “Full Flavor Remix” has turned into a full-fledged posse track and features emcees Microphone Elements and Rush One. Some of my favorite rap tracks of all time are posse cuts and I couldn’t be happier with how these boys decided to end their record.
Smoke Break are skilled artists with a positive message to spread to their fans. Instead of rapping about their jewelry and women, mumbling about their cars, Mike Fantastik and Morgan are offering messages of positive energy and good thoughts.
All of the collaborations heard on Full Flavor are very fitting, as the group has proven they are very adaptable. From horror rapper Komatose to the more absurd Riff Raff, nothing seems out-of-place or odd on this list of guest spots.
Full Flavor presents hip hop fans a more mature outlook on life, making it easy to separate this album from the rest of the pack. Rap music these days is seemingly full of the same content, but the underground has always had something different to offer.
While horror-filled lyrics will always be my main love and attraction, I am glad that rappers like Mike Fantastik and Morgan exist. I hope they continue to spread the message of living it up while remaining strong for yourself and the others around you, and that their fanbase continues to grow.
Full Flavor does present different styles throughout its duration, but the overall message is clear. I hope it is one you are willing to listen to.
If you are looking for a break from your typical playlist, make it a Smoke Break.
You can pre-order the CD version of Full Flavor now, before its official May 10 release date on Cutthroat Productions. There are also plans to release the album in its entirety through Spotify and other digital outlets, at a further date.
Smooth guitar riffs, positive vibes, and a keep on keeping on attitude is something we need more of. This album may not become your new favorite hip hop album of all time, but it definitely deserves your ear for at least a few spin throughs in its entirety.
I give Full Flavor 7 party positive vibes out of 10 and hope that you check out the album for yourself!