Every now and then an album comes along where you know you will be sitting down to it, in arms reach from the rewind button, with lyrics that just intrigue up your head. Every year they are few. This year, one of them will be “Spark” by AP Coley. The Jacksonville rapper says he stands for two things – “anything’s possible”, as well as “being yourself all day, every day and embracing your individuality”. Via this 12 track record, AP Coley proves to the world that he is one of underground hip-hop’s lyrical masterminds, as every track contains vivid, outstanding lyrics and spectacular rhymes that can put many a rapper to shame.
“Spark” is a best-of-many-worlds record, formulated from backpack-rap’s sense of social justice and overclocked positive verbiage, plus mainstream rap’s sometimes outsized charisma and catchy delivery. In some instances AP Coley vocally peppers his durable, booming vernacular, with sticky clusters of tongue-twisting syllables.
AP Coley combines several skill sets into a seamless package: A vivid narrative imagination and the control to bring it to life, a knack for dizzying extended metaphors and haymaker punchlines, and a complex but positive moral sense. Any given track on “Spark” displays one or two of these attributes.
“Good Conscience” (Prod. CuhLilWoe & Bluff Gawd) sustains a smooth rhyme scheme built around the need to be positive in life. As the man says, “It’s easy to complain, but that won’t change things.” “There’s More” (Prod. CuhLilWoe & Bluff Gawd), continues with the album’s uplifting and empowering attitude.
Filled with melody and a sweetly sung chorus, AP Coley spells it out yet again: “Life has more in store if you believe.” By the time we hit the third track, “Elevators” (Prod. Bluff Gawd), it becomes clear that this dude is not letting up. He means to get you up off your chair and reacting to life’s travesties – “This is for the motivators, stay focused, rise over hell or haters. Follow your heart, who knows how far it could take you.”
The epic, braggadocio fantasy “Bad Habits” (Prod. CuhLilWoe & Infinite Amo), provides a scathing narrative on self-centered personalities. It’s fantastic pacing and its use of music as a storytelling supplement only adds to the high-wire tension.
AP Coley never flounders into over familiar territory, keeping his music lucid and lively. He gives his shape-shifting beats plenty of room to breathe, while filling it up with climatic verses. On “Tic Toc” (Prod. The Architekz), he delivers brisk syllabic shards that slot neatly into the music’s juke-joint bounce.
AP Coley is an emcee who exudes confidence and pulls off mind-bending breath control while spitting scientifically superb lyrics at any choice of tempo; often speeding and slowing at will. Alliteration, punchlines, assonance and meter are all in his bag of tricks.
Yet, as if that wasn’t enough, he even sings his own hooks. There is also a subtle beauty hidden in many of his bars too, which you will discover in tracks such as, “Mrs. Mystery” (Prod. X), “Insecure” (Prod. CuhLilWoe) and “Sore Thumbs” (Prod. The Architekz). On this album, AP Coley comes off like an emissary from hip-hop’s golden age, eager to make up for lost time.