Wordsmith – King Noah
Wordsmith has been one of Baltimore’s most tirelessly prolific rappers for several years now, releasing hours upon hours of music, usually on free mixtapes. When he does turn up with a proper retail album, Wordsmith tends to swing for commercial exposure, with especially radio-friendly tracks or a big name collaborator like Chubb Rock, with whom he created the 2009 duo album Bridging The Gap. But the latest Wordsmith solo LP feels significant in the context of his catalog for how it looks inward: King Noah, released just before Father’s Day this year, is something of a concept album about fatherhood, full of dedications to and advice for the rapper’s new son Noah.
On My Job
Wordsmith’s music has always been on the earnest end of things, and the idea a mature rap album about parenthood could threaten to put him into terribly uncool territory. But King Noah actually works best when sticking to the concept, on the opening title track and elsewhere, and especially on songs like “Grudges & Growing Pains” that take the fatherly advice to creative and unexpected places. “On My Job” even manage a rare Wordsmith song that actually has real mainstream appeal. Still, there is a variety of subject matter here that strays from the album’s central conceit, and often those songs, like the clunky “Globetrotters,” drag the album down. And the nearly a dozen guest verses from other MCs, including rising Washington, D.C. star Phil Ade, eventually start to dilute the quality of an album that had started out much stronger.