Released March 25, 2016
- Medicine Man
- Two 16’s
- The Healing Process
- ALIENated feat. Smitty
- She Sucks feat. Chris Davis
- CoSIGN feat. Skonie
- The Turning Point
- Keep Dreaming
It’s about time. Three years after the successful Kickstarter for the album, Lead Poison is finally out. In promotion for this album, Elzhi reveals that depression was the main reason behind the many delays. It’s good to see the man in a better space in his life. It’s also good to see the music didn’t suffer, either.
While he does talk about his depression, the album doesn’t get bogged down by that emotion. An impressive feat because there isn’t a pure braggadocio, battle-oriented song here. There is a topic on each song, and they all funnel toward the idea of depression and the elements of someone’s life and how they are impacted by it. Even Egocentric may seem to be just a lyrical assault, but as the song plays, it becomes apparent that Elzhi is struggling with his own ego and it does more damage than he would like. With subtle production changes from the first to the second verse, and dope wordplay, Egocentric is one of the best songs off the album.
February is the first single off the album, and it also is one of the best songs on Lead Poison. He’s the most explicit about the struggle as he draws parallels between the cold of February and how it feels to be stuck in depression for a prolonged period of time. With a nod to J Dilla at the end, the song is a standout. Not to mention the homage to Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind.
After a few listens, although it might not be the same situation as Jay Z watching the movie American Gangster and creating an album with the same title, there is a synergy between Lead Poison and Eternal Sunshine. If you would’ve told me that Elzhi watched that movie and created Lead Poison, I could believe it. Production-wise, it’s hard not to shake the connection. There aren’t any overtly loud or upbeat music. All of it has a hint of somberness and/or a dark mood. I am aware I could be reaching with this connection, but if you were to remove Elzhi’s lyrics and overlaid the instrumentals over scenes of the movie, more often than not, I’m willing to bet they would work. Perhaps I’m wrong, but when I think about the production of the album and the movie, it feels right.
The only song that wouldn’t work and the only song that doesn’t belong on the album is She Sucks. Elzhi weaves a story of meeting a woman who reveals herself to be a vampire, and Elzhi goes around terrorizing the city as a newly-converted blood sucker. Granted, it’s cool to hear that concept in a rap song, but it was jarring to hear the song in the middle of this album. This is the only skippable song on Lead Poison.
15 out of 16 songs is still great. All credit goes to Elzhi for not only bringing the album to his Kickstarter supporters, but elevating his music-making skills. Of course there are people who will enjoy his earlier solo work or even his tenure with Slum Village more, but it’s undeniable that Elzhi has grown as an artist and Lead Poison reflects it.
One more thing about Eternal Sunshine. The movie follows Joel, who learns that his ex-girlfriend, Clementine underwent a procedure to erase all the memories she had of Joel. He then chooses to do the same, but in the middle of the procedure, subconsciously chooses to fight against it. (Spoiler Alert!) Both Joel and Clementine learn that they have a past and both chose to erase each other from their memories. But they ultimately choose to be together again, because the highs were worth all the lows. Living with all the lows also applies to Elzhi.
Depression is serious, and it can ruin lives. But Elzhi chose to not only reveal he had to deal with it, but approached the topic in a variety of ways on Lead Poison. By the end of the album, Elzhi comes out better because of the lows. So did the music.