The intro/title track "Beloved" quickly answers the question, "where did the title for Beloved come from?" A robotic Midnight Marauders type voice starts the track off with: "The meaning of the name David is beloved or friend." This Biblical Hebrew origin immediately links both emcees: Dave East (whose name is David Brewster Jr., also Dave is a nickname for David) and Styles P (whose name is David Styles). Each David uses their bars to introduce themselves to the listener. The first two verses are equally divided, starting with Styles and ending with East. The last verse is a back and forth starting with East and switching off with P every two bars. Both emcees do an amazing job complimenting each others flow. Honestly there are many overlaps in their rap styles. So much so that I believe the synergy created was effortless. Their is an underlying authenticity in what they say and how they say it. But if you break down their bars (like yours truly), you can decipher what makes each emcee unique. Example, in the last verse Styles P raps, "Beloved, I been rugged since the four finger nugget." I won't go too deep into it (pause), but basically Styles is dating himself by saying he's been hustlin since 1980-ish (when McDonald's McNuggets came out). In contrast, Dave East raps, "Beloved, I been thuggin' since Carmelo played for the Nuggets." East is also "dating" himself, but if you follow the clues he is saying he's been hustlin since 2003-ish (when Carmelo Anthony was drafted by the Denver Nuggets). Actually until I read this breakdown out loud I see that these lines mirror each other more than I thought. So major props to them for that.
The final track "Load My Gun" features the remaining Lox members joining the Styles/East collabo. If you a LOX fan you already know what it is. The haunting instrumental provides the perfect foundation for the OGs to paint vivid street portraits. But "the LOX create another street banger" is not gonna be a headline. The trio has had decades of honing their style and chemistry. Dave East was able to hold his own with P, but how would he fare spitting alongside the entire legendary collective? With a resounding "hold my drink", Dave East drops bars that make you believe he is a LOX long lost nephew. Just like that. This track is arguably the hardest track on the album. Which is saying something because this is one of the hardest albums I've heard in a minute. Breaking down a verse won't really do the track justice. Just know this is top shelf. I might even recommend playing this track first (after you finish this review of course). But it makes sense that this track would be the bookend to the project.
If I were to describe the album in one word, it would have to be "hard" (feel like I need another pause here). This project evokes 90's LOX (of course)/CNN/Mobb Deep type vibes. Just good ol' grimey NY bars and beats. This is the type of joint you bang while eating cereal on the stoop in your wife beater, sweats, and flip flops and socks. Styles P and Dave East were able to successfully capture a timeless moment in Hip Hop. Styles comes from the Golden Era of Hip Hop (and the crack era). East is a branch from that tree. And both emcees are able to seamlessly bridge generational gaps. Like I said in the intro paragraph, this should work on paper (and it clearly did). The main reason being that even though there is thirteen years between the emcees, the underlining characteristic between them is authenticity. Keeping it real is timeless. Well, authentic "keeping it real"-ness. Because we know not everyone who says they keep it real is actually living that life. And of course there is the NY connection. Both emcees are products of the same environment, just from a different decade. The more I listen to the album, the more I appreciate the fine line the emcees balanced. There is a nostalgic vibe you get from the album, but it is definitely a contemporary project. The evolution of Styles P's street lyrical style is merged with Dave East establishing himself as the new generation of street lyrical emcees. If you are looking for radio hits or back pack raps, keep it moving. Beloved is strictly for those who live or appreciate that street life. If that's you, def pick this up ASAP if you haven't done so already.
Peep Beloved album, video for "We Got Everything", and Funk Flex freestyles below.