Every once in a while, we get a reminder that music AND organic level fan base can truly be the most valuable assets an artist can have. Not gimmicks, as often thought to be the case by ‘industry’ bankers. Case and point: underground [ish] rapper Hi-Rez dropped a brand new album this week, Missing Pieces, which made an impressive impact on the iTunes charts, coming in at #13 on the US Hip-Hop/Rap category. As I’m writing this, it’s currently #17 in Canada, nestled between Drake and Eminem, and one of only two relatively unknown acts in the Top 20. The coolest part, though, is that he did so without any co-signs, major label, commercial radio, or—for that matter—any credible press push. Just old fashioned grind and manual relationship building with fans.
As a whole the project keeps a very cohesive tone, sticking to the elements of a common narrative. ‘College drop-out, dedicated himself to music, struggled through the bad times, finally got on; now that he’s there, he’s noticing it’s harder to sift through his circle in search of genuine friendship as opposed to hands in his pockets.’ Much like Kanye’s debut album, College Dropout, this project uses that story line as the underlying basis for all the records—with great results.
There’s a light but dope supporting cast; he’s joined by Billboard charting Dizzy Wright on the “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe”-esque “Preach,” one of the project’s strongest records. Also making appearances are underrated New York spitter Emilio Rojas (“Get Out And Get It”), Rapper/Singer Devvon Terrell (“I’m Up”) and BRBN on the ‘let’s all be cool with each other’ anthem “It’s All Love.” The rest of the records are held down by Rez, with a versatile, rapid fire, multi-syllable flow.
This project isn’t his first, as he clearly articulates on the project more than once; his recent success has been the result of hard work and dedication. He’s been ripping stages pretty much everywhere, and his iTunes catalog is packed with music. It’s just now reached the right temperature to boil and bubble over. One of the most profound takeaways from the album comes in the form of a sound clip around two-minutes into the second song, “Other Side.” “It’s all about building that foundation; it’s about building that fucking house before you get there,” he says with a hint of aggression. “A lot of these clowns race right to the top…when that wave is out nobody gives a fuck. You may have money, but you’re not going to die a legend.”
An excellent cover to cover listen; no filler, no bullshit. Give it a spin, and if you’re into it, you can catch him on tour.