Presented to us by SUB|ROK RECORDS, “Project Alpha”, the first official mixtape by rapper & producer Gentry Fox, is an ambitious and insightful project that sees Fox mainly take a back seat from producing, and concentrate more on his songwriting and performing skills. This is a compilation of weekly singles that were released by the artist during late 2018 and early 2019 (Nov. ’18 – May ’19). It is described as the Gentry Fox’s “artistic vision while fighting off procrastination, heartbreak, depression, perfectionism, and other self-destructive patterns holding him back.” President/CEO & Founder of the Rocky Mountain (USA) based hip-hop recording label and artistic collective SUB|ROK RECORDS, Fox is also an official representative and ambassador of Hip-Hop Roots SLC, the Utah chapter of a regional independent music and art syndicate celebrating the elements of hip-hop culture. Additionally, he is the founding member, producer of the Midwest hip-hop outfit Rhyme Squad. Fox has been rapping since he was 11 years old. He has since shared the stage with many influential names in Hip-hop.
“Project Alpha” is a groovy, upbeat yet somber experience that had me playing it from start to finish several times. As a fan of Gentry Fox’s blend of consciously philosophical and hardcore street style, and groovy retro aesthetics, since 2014, I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed this mixtape. “Project Alpha’s” melancholic keyboard and guitar driven beats, quirky 90’s influences and gorgeous, brooding lyrics took me to an emotional place that hip-hop hardly ever takes me to anymore.
The mixtape has an emotional sophistication and a brutal honesty that is often absent in a genre that too often indulges in candy floss productions or over-intellectualizing allegories. The result is straightforward and relatable, yet loaded with inherent meaning. Gentry Fox’s greatest talent is for writing efficient storylines and memorable rhymes that anybody can relate to.
All his songs have a visceral quality that anyone going through a rut can identify with. There’s an element of organic warmth on most songs that complement the emotional and immediate nature of “Project Alpha” quite well. It’s a great record to listen to when you’re going through some shit on your own. It has an odd soothing quality to it, like the soundtrack of somebody genuinely trying to get better.
Getting to know Gentry Fox via the 20 tracks presented here, is mostly an intimate and endearing experience. “Project Alpha” is proof you can write emotional and introspective rap lyrics without sounding like a suicidal maniac trying to draw attention to himself. It’s masterfully accomplished for what it is, and it reflects moods and situations you yourself have probably experienced over and over in your life.
It’s a way of making hip-hop we’re not used to in this day and age of trap and mumble rap. “Project Alpha” holds a dark but large perspective. It explores failures, disappointments and coping, as well as hope and ambition, to the backdrop of mostly smooth and hushed and deeply resonating tones, but also does not back down from forging harder hitting gut-busting beats when necessary.
I will refrain from dissecting each track, as my view of “Project Alpha” is not intended to be a paint-by-numbers rap review. “Project Alpha” is pure art, and art speaks and communicates its intentions directly to listeners who are capable of ascending to the same level of artistic and emotional appreciation. It needs no interpretation.
By and large though, “Project Alpha” submerges the listener into the deep crevices of self-destruction for the purpose of understanding one’s self, and the pitfalls that can doom us to mediocrity. If you don’t get to dig one single track on this project, then you deserve to endure the collection of mediocre “Lil” rappers currently doing the scene, for the rest of your life!
“Project Alpha” features entirely non-exclusive production by Mixla, 3Point, Eskupe & Anthro Beats, Khronos, Guggenz, Seneca B, Beatmachinearon, Kupla x j’san & Nymano, Arbour, Harlem, BVG, Midnight Black, & G.FOX himself.