Get It (AWOL/E1)
Empire’s debut record is equal parts mixtape and major-label release. In addition to the Toronto group’s hard-edged vocal chemistry, Empire – T.R.A., Mezziah, Adam Bomb, Scandalis, Talksick and Tek Man – pair entertaining skits (something damn near impossible to pull off well) with wide-ranging production by Rich Kidd and Amir the Terrorist, making for an engaging, varied album.
Run Up In The Spot is a broody trunk-banger, while the soulful One Thing Wrong could’ve been on a Diplomats comp back in their heyday. Get It’s a memorable contribution to Toronto’s street rap scene, and Empire’s ability to comfortably rhyme over both cold, unforgiving synths and rare groove samples while adjusting their lyrical content and delivery accordingly speaks volumes about their potential staying power.
Top track: One Thing Wrong