Raz Simone, Cognitive Dissonance (out now, Black Umbrella, razsimone.com)
Perhaps it’s the weather, but there’s always a sense of familiarity when a local musician creates work that’s dark and gloomy. The latest release by Raz Simone (his real first name is Solomon) is no exception, and takes a heavy, honest look into his life. Poetic and personal, the album details Simone’s experiences dealing drugs, taking care of his family, and his reflections on society and himself. Opener “They Speak” is a freestyle joint recorded at 3 a.m. and faint strings can be heard in the background while the rapper’s rhymes flow naturally. His cadence is hypnotizing and smooth as he asks philosophical questions like “How do we fly/Why do we lie/Where do us bad people go when we die/Heaven or hell/Is it a lie/Or should I pray just in case they were right?” He delves more into religion and politics on his tracks “Natural Resources” and “Bow Down,” sampling a Kanye West rant about classism “as the cousin of racism” in the former. In “Hometown,” he samples Adele’s somber “Hometown Glory,” adding electronic elements like synths and 808 drums. Overall, Dissonance is an album of contemplation, one that can be enjoyed for Simone’s sincerity, lyrical prowess, varied track productions, and raw emotion. All of which perfectly complement the looming, moody overtone of Seattle music—not to mention the weather.