The Lull Before The Storm is the latest release from Que Hampton, a criminally underexposed and underrated MC from Rockland County. This album follows on from his 2015 A Piece of BLAKK mixtape (and a handful of EPs) and like Hamp’s other releases, this is another satisfying example of underground Hip-Hop music. If you’ve never heard of Que Hampton but you’re a fan of lyrical Hip-Hop, then I urge you to check him out and give this album a listen.
The Lull Before The Storm opens with “Silent Warning”, a short, spoken-word-esque intro. From that point on, Que Hampton brings his unique brand of rapping which includes typical rhyme schemes blended with atypical free verse-style lyricism. There’s also the odd occasion where he goes off-beat for more of the unconventional. For instance, in “OFFBACK (TMAC)” which features a bass-heavy, thumping beat courtesy of Ry Beatz, Que ventures off-beat during the hook (which also contains the memorable line “Off back, off that, your wack-ass trash”).
There’s many instances of Hamp’s impressive flow on this release, especially in “Fences”, SAVEYoURSELF”, and “Father Time”. The latter track contains some brilliant introspective lyrics such as “Fuck sanity, every G is gonna lose it, from Zeuses to Jesuses” and “I could start an army with the demons in the room, and we go so far back, you think I had demons in the womb”.
“Fences” also contains some memorable and meaningful lyrics…
“Fences try to keep me barricaded but a nigga from the hood, I don’t even mind climbing. Fences try to keep me barricaded but I’m something like the sun, I don’t even try shining. Fences try to keep me barricaded, but I strive to make it out, it’s either that or die trying. Fences try to keep me barricaded, but I got the escape plotted down to a science.”
“Look Out Below”, which appeared on the 21 EP, is another great track. The lyrics within the chorus perfectly compliment the melancholy soundscape…
“I’m never moving to a dead man’s rhythm (dancing with the devil) that’s the shit that make you fall through, (way down) I keep them down under, try to get a grip (I know you reaching) stuck, and they want me gone too”
The production on The Lull is quite varied; for instance “Digital 2.0” contains a very sparse, 80s-sounding beat which then moves into a deep bassline. Another juxtaposed track is“DOLLA$IGN” with its rumbling drumroll opening and woodwind melody. This is then overlaid with a booming vocal which intermittently says “With money you can buy anything” which is very effective. There’s some organ-infused “old-school” production on “Fences”, there’s a beautiful sombre melody on “Look Out Below”, and “Father Time” features a chopped-up sample which reminds me a little of Squarepusher or even Aphex Twin. Save to say that the production has improved since A Piece Of BlaKK.
At just over 31 minutes long, this album is short but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Like Camp Lo’s The Get Down Brothers and Vince Staple’s Big Fish Theory, The Lull Before The Storm leaves you wanting more (and that can only be a good thing). Apart from the opening track, every single song on this LP is satisfying and well worth going back and listening to again. In fact you may miss some of the lyrics the first time around so a second and third listen is a must.
For me, Que Hampton’s lyrics and delivery always impress but this time, the production has also advanced since A Piece Of BlaKK. But, having said that, I would add that the overall structure of this release needs improving a little. Sure, a nine track album with eight enjoyable tracks is good going but by simply rearranging the track order, this would result in a better album. For instance the aesthetic of “Look Out Below” and “Save Yourself” is very similar (maybe because they’re both produced by Stew The Monk) so they would sound better not separated by songs with differing moods. In addition, I don’t think that “SToRMz Hea (LoNER)” is a strong enough song to end this album with, mainly because the singing chorus goes a little off-key on the word “alone”. Yes, it’s a decent song but it’s not effective as a climactic finale.
Overall I would have liked a few extra tracks to lengthen this album. Yes, all the songs are enjoyable but like I’ve previously said, a couple more tracks along with a jigging of the tracklist would have easily made this a more memorable LP. Despite these small problems however, this is yet another release from Que Hampton that showcases his talents. Once you hear this dude rapping you know he’s someone to look out for in the future. In a time of dumbed-down Mumble-Pop trash, this is exactly the kind of Hip-Hop music we need. It can’t be long now before the public begin to notice.
A Storm’s Coming.