Franz Diego & J-Hard release Sense of Self at Conga tonight
Dropped as a free download a few weeks ago, Franz Diego and J-Hard's collaborative album Sense of Self will be brought to life properly with an 18+ CD release show at Conga in Northeast. The Illuminous 3 veteran is trying out some new avenues on this one, and it's already one of the strongest local releases of the year.
Sense Of Self finds the South Minneapolis MC teaming with North Minneapolis producer J-Hard to create a radically different sound than we've heard from him before. Stylistically, the raps still fall very much within the Illuminous 3 mold of quick-paced, rhyme-heavy tales of wag, but the beats push this mode forward by bringing new direction.
Franz hinted at this shift with his role-playing Futur3 Past Tr0nicles mixtape as TR0N D1AZ 8510, the time-traveling party monster who skewed songs like "Teach Me How To Dougie." On Sense of Self, Franz does not play a character but instead stretch himself to fit the new sounds provided. J-Hard's beats are solid throughout, pulling from hyphy and Houston to create a sonic atmosphere that isn't stuck by the sample-based boom-bap often associated with the Minneapolis rap sound.
Franz proves himself a versatile MC by keeping pace with both his established style and the new palette presented to him. It's mired in Minneapolis, but seems to take inspiration from the likes of A$AP Rocky and Gucci Mane. There's pitch-bending techniques applied to Franz's voice to bring a chopped-and-screwed sound, and it keeps the guest-less album interesting throughout. There's moments where the flow approaches swag-rap's attention to aesthetic, but the key thing that roots the project to our local sound is content. Every song contains some real gems of social wisdom, embedded in lines that are also cognizant of whether or not they sound dope. This doesn't sound like a one-off experiment, but a legitimate and strong progression of craft.
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