Newark, New Jersey, native The Rapper Breeze is kicking off his 2019 with a mood built on sentiments new beginnings, new focus, and — fundamentally — bars. With mixtape legends like Ron G and Lazy K in his corner, it’s not at all surprising that he’s soaked up the the game, and sharpened his ear for mixtape curation. Not that album-that-is-actually-a-mixtape flex, we’re talking the mid-2000s era tapes; his 17-song-effort They Hear Me Now, hosted by DJ D.R.E, is a little of everything, with a consistent theme of potential.

Led off with the radio-ready “Ceiling” — with its infectious chorus and club-friendly soundbed — the project has a lot to check for. The top end has bangers like “4 A Minute,” and “New Shit,” which stands as an anthem for anyone who made a resolution to dump all their dead weight this year. “I be on that new shit,” chants The Hook over the piano-driven beat. 

Things then shift to quasi female-focused tracks leading up to possibly the crown jewel of the project, “Who This” featuring Musso Bronz. Over the breezy beat, he harmonizes that trap talk, chastising anyone clogging up his line while he tries to get the bricks off; it feels like a hit, and while going through it warranted numerous playbacks in our office.

The bulk of the project does have quite a bit of variation. Like the almost western vibe of “Snack,” the boom bap flow on “Black Book,” his take on the backstabbing theme on “Best Friend,” or the sampled aesthetic of “Summer’s Over,” he does a great job of showing many different lanes that he’s able to swerve through without crashing in the wall or other drivers. Though at time the beat choices do seem slightly off base in terms of the current wave, hearing him attack G-Unit’s “I Smell Pussy” (“Red Dot”) or even run through a list of rappers on his twist on “How To Rob,” you can heat that he definitely isn’t a new jack.

His bars and concepts do ultimately keep the project a consistently solid listen. As 2019 begins to take hold, songs like “Sub” really work to illustrate that he’s not here for any of that bullshit this season — while “Do Better” show his willingness to really let go of anything holding him back from living his best life. He’s out here working, so get down or lay down. Add this Brick City rhymer to your radar — because the year is just getting started.