(Art By DeChazier Stokes-Johnson)

Long time site favorite Son Em’ All has been missing in action for a couple of years now. He unfortunately got caught up in the Milwaukee penal system. A struggle that sadly many of our Black males know all too well. However, things are starting to look up again for the veteran emcee. He’s free and though still fighting the system in a sense, he’s also returned to the music scene. He’s got a lot to say and is kicking off his return with an EP entitled Back & Forth. The five track offering is described in the press release as a reference to: “(…) the revolving door of the Prison Industrial Complex as well as the push and pull it puts on a man and his family emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.” That sets a pretty deep tone right there. This journey into a troubled world includes production from top 414 names: DSCRIBE, Blax, and 40Mil. There are also a few guest appearances on the project as well from the likes of: Hektik, kEwii, Mic Crawf, Meccah Maloh, Rich P, and Blax. That is quite the roster of names right there. Settle in for the ride and continue reading after the break.

“F–k An Intro” F/ Hektik

The production here is likable. The spirited foundation, eclectic background elements, middling pace, and down to earth vibe fit perfectly together. There is no hook on this cut as it is a shorter number. The verses are of a premium quality. Son Em’ All takes on the first portion of the track and Hektik holds down the second portion. The transition between the two emcees is flawless. Both artists come with charismatic flows, canny wordplay, and grade A rhymes. They do a great job of exercising their lyrical prowess, setting a high standard for the rest of the EP. A sprinkling of noteworthy lines from the prodigal son include: “I’ve been cool. Write, lost touch. That’s how life go. Friends come and go. You lose weight without the lipo. Glass full. Even when on E, I see my next shot.” One has to respect the pure factual nature of those bars right there. All in all, this is a promising way to kick off the project.

“Sentence Me” F/ Blax

The production here is sufficient. The clean base, complimentary supporting details, easy going rhythm, and pensive vibe result in a valid combination. This is another selection where there is no hook available. But one really isn’t needed. The verses are kosher. Son Em’ All makes his presence felt first and then Blax brings it home for the latter half of the record. The duo serve up mellow flows, fitting wordplay, and transparent rhymes. They paint a vivid picture of the struggle to maintain as well as stay on the straight and narrow. Son Em’ All illustrates: “Surely he was talented. Money rules everything. Curriculum was basic. Like what the f–k is you telling me? Punching in for peanuts. Or plugging in for guapo. It all seems simple to a teenager without dough. But now I got a family. Different set of motives. Threaten that at all and any moment it could go up.” The scenario outlined within those bars is one that many people are sure to be able to relate to in some form or fashion. As a whole, this is a significant tune.

“So Fake”

The production here is of a top of the line quality. The polished infrastructure, quirky musical ingredients, groovy tempo, and rich vibe are a real blessing to the ears. The hook is refreshing. The delivery is magnetic and the lyrics are memorable. The verses are fulfilling. Son Em’ All utilizes a personable flow, expressive wordplay, and heartfelt rhymes. He shares a lot of intimate thoughts and words of wisdom as he examines the epidemic that is fake love. An excerpt from which includes: “Not only extended play. This song more than Rap to me. Breathe actually to keep the ism in the lyrics. Every line alive so you can feel them in the lyrics. Always drop jewels. This was meant for you to hear it. My gravitation pulling at your mental and your spirit.” The depth of those bars right there definitely leaves a lasting impression long after the song is complete. Overall, this makes for a stirring conclusion to the EP and it happens to be the site favorite as well.

**My Two Cents: Son Em’ All is a day one supporter of the site. So his absence was definitely felt and he was seriously missed. Welcome back sir! With that being said, Back & Forth is a striking collective with a necessary concept. The incarceration rate in Milwaukee is way too high. The conditions of the institutions are a joke. And the amount of injustice as well as corruption that is at work is disgusting. It’s about time someone spoke up and took action. Due to his genuine nature, impeccable way with words, and past experiences, Son is a great candidate for the job. He pens an eye opening glimpse into the world of what life is like when one is caught up in the system and trying to change for the better. It’s set to really well crafted production. Everything flows smoothly together. My only is hang up is that the EP is a little feature heavy. For it to be of such a personal subject matter as well as Son’s first project upon returning, it would’ve been nice to hear more solo cuts from the 414 vet. But that’s not a major issue. The guest artists hold their own, no doubt. Readers should give Back & Forth an ear asap. I promise you’ll be glad that you did. -MinM 

Total Package
8/10
Overall score: 8/10