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Review: ‘Hall & Nash 2’ showcases what makes Westside Gunn and Conway the Machine exciting

hall-nash2
Courtesy ALC Records

By Jacob Pellegrino     1/16/24 10:04pm

Rating: ★★★★

Top Track: ‘Michelangelo’

In 2016, underground rappers Westside Gunn and Conway the Machine were beginning to build a following, releasing albums filled with intense verses over ornate instrumentals. As a follow up to their collaborative release, “Hall & Nash,” named after the ’90s pro wrestling duo, the two linked up with The Alchemist, one of hip hop’s most exciting producers, to record a sequel. However, Westside Gunn and Conway the Machine soon signed with Shady Records leaving the finished album, originally scheduled for a 2017 release, shelved with some of the tracks used on other projects over the years. Now, the original album is finally out for public consumption.



“Fork In The Pot” is an early highlight from the album, featuring ScHoolboy Q and new to streaming with the release of “Hall & Nash 2.” It previously had a limited physical release via The Alchemist’s store in 2018. The track’s production hinges around a bass groove and drum instrumental with synth flourishes punctuating the long verses. It’s broken up with Gunn taking the chorus and Conway and ScHoolboy Q each on a verse. Lyrically, the song deals with the rappers’ experiences and skill with dealing drugs. Listeners are left knowing that even despite the artists’ new careers, they still have the skills and mentality they needed in the past. ScHoolboy Q’s delivery during his verse is a particular high point on the track.

“Michelangelo” is another essential song on “Hall & Nash 2.” The Alchemist’s production shines from the first second of the track with haunting notes that seem to hang above the verses, lingering in the listener’s ears. At first it can seem like the beat will be a simple one bar repeating pattern before it builds and shifts into a releasing piano melody. The verses in song, which eschews a chorus, match the menace of the instrumental as Gunn and Conway embrace the brash confidence that has helped them to get where they are today.

Another particularly exciting cut production-wise is “94 Ghost Shit,” also previously released as a physical only single in 2018. With a smooth transition from the previous track, “Michelangelo,” “94 Ghost Shit” moves the focus to Conway with him rapping both verses over The Alchemist’s intense looping keys instrumental. Conway largely deals with his rise to fame and raw ability. In the first verse, he reflects on the factors working against him, such as his battle with Bell’s Palsy after a 2012 shooting that left the right side of his face paralyzed, affecting his flow and almost ending his rap career.

As a whole, “Hall & Nash 2” is a rewarding listening experience that includes previously unreleased tracks and recontextualizes others. Even though the project was recorded in 2016, it sounds vital and current, emphasizing the consistency and relevance of all parties involved. In an announcement on his Instagram, The Alchemist has already teased another “Hall & Nash” project featuring Westside Gunn, Conway the Machine, producer Daringer and himself.



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