Hailing from the home of the Terrapins (that’s Maryland,
for those of you who are geographically challenged), Substantial is here to bring the fun back to hip hop. It’s rare to
see any emcees coming out of the Old Line state these days, let alone from Prince
George’s County; nevertheless, Substantial
is one PG emcee you’ll be glad you looked up.

Sacrifice kicks
it off with “Let It Go,” in which Substantial’s
lyrics showcase the desperation of the daily grind: “‘Life is what you make it’ is the motto I follow/Hard to slow your
roll when you been livin’ full throttle/Tryin’ to make my dreams manifest with
this is hard though/Feel like I’ve got a better chance of hittin’ the lotto/See
the blood, sweat and tears stained on my cargos/”
Don’t be fooled by the
lyrical content, though; the song, like most of this album is very upbeat and
enjoyable – a refreshing change in a genre that constantly takes itself far too

Substantial’s emceeing
and lyricism is on full display as he coasts through “That Damn Good” and “Chain Reaction” in a seemingly effortless fashion. “My
Favorite Things” takes a twist on the
old show tune and turns it into one of the more clever dedications to Hip Hop. “4dozdatdonkno” is the album’s only glaring misstep, as
it contains less charisma than any of the other tracks on Sacrifice, and doesn’t really seem to belong. This small departure
is quickly forgotten, however, as things pick right back up with It’s You (I Think)/Go Wait (Interlude),
and don’t stop until the album closes out.

I cannot stress enough
how great the production is on this album. Now, I know it’s difficult to
think of anything that isn’t littered with club bangers as having good
production, but follow me for just a second, folks. From the second you press
play until the moment the album ends, Sacrifice
treats you to a wide range of sounds that’ll take you outside of your head
for a spell. The jazzy sounds found on “Let It Go” and “U Can Get It/This Instrument,” coupled with the more soulful “That Damn Good” and “It’s You (I Think)/Go Wait” are the sort of tracks you could vibe
to on a long drive. There’s even some good old-fashioned funk on “Resurrection
of the House Party” that’d be a
welcome addition to any playlist as a house party.

The whole idea of sacrifice is that it’s much like most
other things in this life – it’s what you make of it. It could be the
sacrifices you make whilst in the pursuit of the almighty dollar; it could be
the sacrifices you make to pursue your dreams; for Substantial, sacrifice is the things he has given up for the
pursuit of his musical craft. Like he rhymes on the bonus track “Sacrifice” (which
features DJ Kool Herc), “Nothin’ in life come easy, ‘cept God-given
talent/When these hard times got a brother feelin’ violent/I think ’bout the
sacrifices made/To help me reach the point that I’m standing at today”
result of those sacrifices is an album that will surely not be a disappointment
to anyone smart enough to cop it.