'Balens Cho' - An Intimate Gaze Into Mach-Hommy's Storytelling
Translating to 'Hot Candles' in Kreyol, the ever elusive Haitian rapper Mach-Hommy released Balens Cho seven months after his highly anticipated Pray For Haiti which was exclusively produced by lead Griselda member Westside Gunn. With 2021 being a good run for the rapper, the album also comes after his collaboration with fellow Haitian-American musician KAYTRANADA on '$payforhaiti'.
The new, self-released album, features The God Fahim and AA Rashid along with production credits from Ras G, Nicholas Craven, Conductor Williams, Fortes and Messiah Musik. The project is a microscopic peer into the exploration of Haiti from his point of view as well as his goal to build a technology school for the youth in Haiti.
Being an active participant in his culture, Mach-Hommy is no stranger in portraying the realities of Haiti and his origins through his music, and strives to rebuild his home such as donating portions of his masters back to the country, as Haiti is still billions of dollars in debt and addressing its colonial history after being ruled by the French in the 18th century. With Haiti being the poorest country in the western hemisphere, as stated from an excerpt from opening track 'The 26th Letter' from Pray For Haiti, it surrounds the ideologies of slavery, revolution, debt, corruption, exploitation and violence. Balens Cho, however, reveals a smoother and jazzier side to Mach-Hommy's production style whilst still addressing these problems within the countries infrastructure. He portrays colonialism in anecdotal pieces that are dotted throughout the project such as in 'WOODEN KNUCKLES', a softer and piano led track that speaks about trials and tribulations his own circle endured when reminiscing about stories his grandmother would tell him about his grandfather who subsequently travelled to the states, his father and the brother-in-law who went to study art in Paris but never returned. Mach does, however, talk about making it out the mud himself on 'LABOU': "I was really picking lemons in the orchards, now I'm revving the engines on 911 porches."
Still taking inspiration from 90s boom-bap and gangsta rap such as on 'MONEY MAGNETS' as well as dipping into classic Griselda-type beats such as on 'LABOU' or 'SEPARATION OF THE SHEEP AND THE GOATS' that emulate soulful instrumentals, Balens Cho is sprinkled with short vintage clips and interludes that break up the album into sections. The album slowly descends into Mach-Hommy talking about 'SELF LUH' with sampling from Bread's 'Everything I Own', produced by none other than Conductor Williams as his signature tag introduces the track. "...loving them so, but taking them all for granted..." fades in and out in intervals as Mach-Hommy describes people who simply don't take care of their bodies. As he raps about massaging pressure points, his joints, eating trash and even cutting out social media, as he mentions how we need to slow down and rejuvenate our bodies from time to time as we take our bodies for granted. "Say it with me, 'I am infinite wealth' but it all starts out with loving yourself."
Closing the year on a high, Mach-Hommy has quickly built his own niche fanbase through Griselda and Westside Gunn fans alike. As we wait to see what else Mach-Hommy does next we're still left wondering what exactly was said at his dinner with Jay-Z.
Listen to Balens Cho (Hot Candles) here!