CEO Chino Marley was raised in the southern United States, often living around Birmingham, Alabama and New Orleans, Louisiana. Growing up, Marley’s passions lied in music and technology. Whether they involved rapping for teachers in school, or learning how to take things apart and put them together again, he would eventually utilize a similarly constructive approach when it came to writing his own songs. As Marley was raised without a father figure, his transition into adulthood came with its growth-stunting challenges; among them, struggling with street life, and a prison stint keeping him from seeing the birth of his first child. However, Marley has since redeemed himself by exclusively focusing on music, entrepreneurship, and above all, family.
After continuing strong with last year’s full-length, Drip Flies, Marley has sustained that momentum (in both a creative and thematic sense) on his latest album, Dripology, Vol. 1. Like Marley’s previous album, this one starts off the energy right with the heavy-hitting initial tracks, “No Hook” and “New Wave.” In both, the mood is conveyed equally in their similarly mournful but variant synth arrangements. The latter song, aside from instrumental quality, also resonates by way Marley’s tone blending with guest rapper Z Money, a sensible factor in the song’s release as a single. In the third track, “Make ‘Em Believe,” there’s a transition to a more uplifting note where Marley recognizes his current success after having been stifled by the wrong path. Further on, I found “Pressure” to be an expansion of the track, as it seems to center on a bleak, murky lull from the plateau of being on top. Capping off the album’s first side is “Blocc Shit,” which increases the momentum through its brutal stance of putting people who act out of line in their place. What makes this track work well is Marley’s nuanced delivery, which makes a blunt, tense anecdote about neighborhood drama seem like an ordinary part of life to tolerate, and ultimately, overcome.
On the latter half of the album, “Big Smoke” continues on the angle to highlight the outcome for when such drama escalates into violence. Although there’s a bit less distinction between Marley and guest rapper Slimelife Shawty, it still does its part at maintaining the album’s pace. The song “Debbie” further provides a welcome transition into the next two, “High” and “Narcotics,” both of which center on drug-fueled tonality with psychedelia tinged beats. By the closer, “Shoot Yo Shot,” the pacing is once again refreshed. Its addition of guests King Ace and Sonia are a sensible addition, each singer leaning more toward a traditional R&B sensibility. With that stylistic shift in effect, it also seems to subtly represent Marley’s path toward a focused life, and subsequently getting back on track.
Overall, Dripology Vol. 1 is not only a worthy follow-up full length, but a decent initial snapshot of Chino Marley’s dizzying yet consistent journey. Each song not only sees his distinctive beat identity take on a revamped form, but his guest spots shine individually, as well as contribute a fair amount to its stylistic nuances and pacing. Given the extent of what MarIey has already gone through, I’d be curious to see the kind of growth he experiences come Volume 2.
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