If you know Toki Wright already, it’s probably because you’ve seen him as a hype man at some other Rhymesayers artist’s concert. What you probably didn’t know was that Wright was honing his skills and writing his own rhymes in preparation to be the next great underground emcee. I say this in part because he has a song on the album called “Next Best Thing,” but also because this is one of the stronger debut albums I’ve come across. Wright comes across as a thoughtful, soulful, musical emcee, obviously influenced by artists like Lateef and Mos Def. The album also has a very complete feeling to it, thanks in large part to the mostly unknown producer Benzilla, who I believe along with Wright will be fixtures on the scene for years to come. He mixes in soul and reggae in his own unique blend that works well with Wrights lyrics. I say this because more than anything, this album feels like everyone involved took the time to do it right. The album makes sense as a whole, it varies musically, and by the time you get to the end of the last track, you feel like you’ve completed a journey. This to me is one of the highest compliments I can give to a musician. Really, this album accomplished what I wished every album did - I put it in my CD player in the car, and I didn’t take it out for about a week, because I felt like I was in dialogue with it.

Before you think I’m saying this album is perfect, let me say there are few spots where I feel like Wright takes the easy way out, like when he makes a big dick joke in “More Fiya,” and a couple more times across the album. Even then, I feel like he just needs to be called out and he’ll reach higher. The majority of the time, Wright does strive to talk about something meaningful with his lyrics, taking the listener to the struggles of life, trying to raise his daughter, dealing with the police, politics, the music industry and so forth. I will say that this album definitely ranks among the pleasant surprises of the year.