Perhaps it’s my age or just the sheer nostalgia I feel for smooth, breezy West Coast vibes, but Honor Flow Productions always come through for me—especially after a tough week. Dipped in a deliciously 90s aesthetic, DJ Chuck, ELIMN8, and DJisLORD hit me up with a pair of joints: a single from their (still fresh) 2018 release, The B.L.A.C.K. Odyssey (“It’s All Love”) and a b-side from the same album, recently unearthed from the original sessions.
Produced by Chuck, “It’s All Love” is particularly intriguing in its relatability. He sets things off, lamenting his catholic school experience, dubbing hip-hop off the radio (an OCD affection I also shared), and living life in a daze of childhood innocence. ELIMN8 recalls overcoming speech therapy and partial deafness as a child to earning a college degree as a byproduct of those who lifted him.
The song is accompanied by a GreenGreeem-directed visual that captures the feel perfectly, from the deliciously west-coast scenery and light leaks to the moving backdrop cutaways reminiscent of Dj Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince’s “Summertime” scenes on the moving truck.
While “It’s All Love” feels like an afternoon smoke session where you reminisce on yesteryear with your homies, the lost b-side “Cruise Control” feels like later that night, with the two MCs going back and forth about after-hours movements through the city of angels. Being the guys they are, that means Galaga & brew with a shorty, streaming Street Fighter, eating tacos, and just, for lack of an unnecessarily deep explanation, enjoying a relatably typical night.
Chuck crushes this instrumental, as well, from top to bottom (which includes cuts by LORD).
It’s all very refreshing, to be honest; I’ve always found them appealing for this very reason. In a contemporary space that thrives off of gimmicks, bravado, and a whole lot of “gang gang” shit, this type of aura feels like a lost relic: cats that love the spirit of hip-hop making that laid back Cali-boom bap long lost in the shuffle. It sounds made for live performance—which isn’t a mistake.
Hip-hop is more than what it’s become commercially and more than its sonic opposite: a more aggressively conscious brand of socio-political movement anthems.
Honor Flow Productions takes me back to sitting outside with my crew on Friday and Saturday night, getting lifted, and making pause tapes off college radio. You can feel the purity dripping off of these guys, and after the month I’ve been through, cruising the city with the windows down bumping this two-pack was medicine for the soul.