Vizualye, born Rajaee Grey presides over his tunes with an old world grace and steely strength that feels oddly calming in these uniquely turbulent times. Given how unorthodox 2017 has been and how much more unorthodox things are going to get, we need someone who has been fighting for a while to tell us the importance of continuing to fight. The rapper knows his duty to educate and inspire the public, and “Hunger Games” feat J Schick is one of his best records since his debut release. The record is produced by Taye Legend, and is steeped in a muscular, economical piano-driven sound, giving it a terrific sonic cohesion that scarcely has time for obsolete pleasantries.
Vizualye emerged on the scene in 2014 coming from Northern Virginia and has maintained a steady growth in the underground scene. He is a true intellectual and a master of subtlety when the situation calls for it, which it rarely does in this climate.
“Hunger Games” feat J Schick is particularly resonant, as Vizualye’s message doubles both as a retrospective on his own career and the current state of social activism. The rapper knows how much work is ahead, but despite the unprecedented present circumstances he still sees the parallels to past battles and a way to change.
There will be plenty of important socially conscious rap coming in the near future, considering the circumstances, but it is unlikely that much of it will match the cohesion and clarity of Vizualye’s vision. Regardless of the method of self-expression you consult, whether it’s the brash, raucous street garble from some rappers, or the stringy, often cautious stream-of-consciousness, from others, there is always a larger, sociopolitical elephant in the room.
One of those elephants is Vizualye. The artist stands as one of the leading proponents for change, delivering wordplay lined with context — but this time his supporting cast in the shape of J Schick also plays an important role in crafting his chilling epic.
On “Hunger Games” feat J Schick, the socially conscious lyricism is matched by a dynamic instrumental. Across its three-and-a-half minute running time, it rarely lets up, a stream of consciousness that is both engaging and provoking in equal measure.
This message reflects the overarching narrative of positivity and ambition to create change which builds across the course of the record. Clearly Vizualye is a great student of the origins of hip-hop, its importance for social activism, and providing a voice for the repressed and socially isolated.