Before I start off the review, I’d like for you to check out one video off the album called “What It’s Like” by Phora that is sure to impress you. It’s a track produced by Esta.
WARNING: This tape/album is really nice:
Phora needs to be heard, and is well on his way. You can grab the mixtape version of “One Life to Live” on HotNewHipHop (it comes with 17 tracks): and that is that is the version I am going to review: picking my favorite tracks. Much of the album is produced by Organized Threat affiliate Eskupe Uno
Track 1: Summer Madness ft. XP (Produced by Apollo Brown)
Beautiful beat by Apollo Brown to start the album. What a great first star producer to have on your album! That’s some golden era shit. Pho-phi-fizzle goes in heavy from the beginning. Think I would prefer a laid back intro but I’m always a fan of when Phora gets aggressive like his recent “No Other Way” video. Which you should check out right below:
Really nice chorus by XP, his deep voice goes cool with the beat, nice fluctuations and delivery with his voice. Mad catchy chorus and XP is a great dude. This is a head-banger.
Coming back with the second verse, I enjoy Phora nicely making a switch-up with the delivery, rapping:
“I almost lost a loved one to gunshots/Only got one life to live, is what I was once taught/Plus I don’t care about the whos where and whatnots/Drama always fuckin up my flow like a blood clot”.
Love it. Such a real rapper. Don’t know many more realer rappers than Phora.
Track 2: Hope (Produced by Anthro)
“First off, I ain’t in this for the Dead Presidents/The nice whips, fly chicks, or gold necklaces/I do this in hopes that my Auntie gets off of the pipe/And the small chance of possibly changing a persons life”
This song, with a tough beat by Anthro (I Suppose’s nephew) hooks you right from the beginning with that Dead Presidents sample and Phora singing on the intro.
Then the beat drops, and Phora enters with a VENGEANCE, showing why he’s the California Bruce Willis.
Easily one of the best tracks of the album and so inspiring, so many quotables. When I heard this I was hoping there was a video for this and was very happy when I saw that he made one for it and it had a lot of views because I know this video will affect a lot of people.
He shares knowledge that many are familiar with as he says,
“Don’t let em get you trapped, Cause there’s only 2 places that you’ll end up/And I’m pretty sure you know just where that’s at/Fuck the fame, fuck the money, fuck gettin’ put on the map/I’m just tryna come together/Brown, White, Yellow, Black!”
Though we may know this, it’s ALWAYS important we hear these messages from someone who has successfully got out of situations of poverty and has not made any excuses. It’s inspiration that needs to be out there, and he is a role model to many, especially young kids: knowing the young Phora has such a good head on his shoulder – others are sure to follow.
Gotta love the messages from such a young and smart kid, but right below this shows his complete maturity, in one of the greatest lines of the album IMO:
“I don’t write music to convince you to believe in me/I write music to convince YOU to believe in you”, he raps strongly
I respect Phora as he goes into some deepness, after speaking on some girl problems that had him down for a second.
“Plus my girl is tripping, she keeps thinking I’m callin’ my ex/But somehow, someway, I kept on pushin’/Never show my pain cause you never know who’s lookin’/When you show weakness they try to bring you down”
He brings up a good point on presentation/and outward vulnerability. I believe that one shouldn’t really insult themselves, or other people may try to take advantage. I’m sure many people can relate to his story
Absolutely beautiful sample on the beat we can hear from I Supposes nephew Anthro as the beat rides out
And that sample from Pac he plugged in at the end REALLY inspired me, and I think it will inspire anyone. I’m surprised I never heard that Tupac clip before (about giving scholarships to people who share the basketball), and it’s such an amazing thought. Much love to the Pacster.
Check the video, filmed/edited/directed by Phora himself! Incredible!
Track 3: Pain (Produced by Eskupe)
Phora definitely vibing with this beat, little bit diff delivery, and the voice switch up I’m digging.
The very old school cool type of sample by Eskupe definitely brings out some flavor on this song. Hard to believe Eskupe is only 23 and only been doing this for four years.
Cool laid back chorus with that eery dope sample along with it.
Another song chalk full of quotables.
Keep moving, no matter if them fuckers wanna doubt you nigga.
Never been fed with a silver spoon, what about you nigga?
And one of the quotes of the album: they just want them to tell you how you made it: not where you came from: ironic because unless they understand where you came from: they won’t know what you are supposed to do to get there.
Blue skies turnin’ white, theres blood on the pavement
And all they ever ask me is “Phora how did you make it?
Not “where did you come from?” or “tell me your story”
Theres a difference between cats who want something from and for me
He leaves us with another life-improving lyrical gem to end the song that can really motivate you if you understand the power of it:
But little did I know when you keep all that pain inside,
You’ll be your own worst enemy til the day you die
Track 4: No Matter What (Produced by Eskupe)
Can immediately tell from the beginning vocals that this song is gonna hit and Phoras gonna kill it. This beat is just perfect for Phora.
Cute song. No matter what “You’ll always be the one for me” (even after all you’ve done to me). Absolutely beautiful piano as the verse begins. Liking these lyrics a lot. A song I hope you can really close your eyes and listen to.
What you can’t refuse about a Phora album is there’s material that EVERYONE can relate to. Personally, a lot of the subjects he touches on I haven’t gone through yet I STILL feel he is so touching, so I know that once I live some of the topics he speaks on: I will appreciate the album even more. And there’s very few audience bases that cannot relate to this album. Part of that is the fact that Phora can take the female perspective in one verse and the male perspective in another and perfectly display how both sexes would feel on a topic. It’s quite amazing and I don’t think many rappers are able to do it: so I understand why people would compare him to Tupac. I compare him to Tupac. He has that simple but strong imagery and emotion thats affective towards peoples lives.
It’s not easy being famous/knowing who’s trying to use you and who isn’t.
I’m here for you whether you’re broke, dirty and smelly.
These girls love you cause you famous.
So deep: bringing the sadness out in the second verse which I absolutely love.
You want every second of my time then you can have it/The only thing you don’t have is the right to take advantage/I hope you never try cause my heart is already damaged./And I don’t expect for you to fix it/But I expect that you respect my feelings and you listen/That’s why I’m here/And you need me like I need you/No matter what I gotchu, and never will I leave you/So grab my hand and tell me you won’t ever go/I wanna say ‘forever’ but you never know
What I really love about this album is you really get to know who Phora is. It’s incredible. A lot of people need to write a book for getting to know who that person is, but not Phora, he’ll do it right within his album succintly.
One of my favorite beats from the album. This is one that could go on replay for a long long time. The duo showing why they work so well together. A video to this song would be money$$
Track 5: What It’s Like (Produced by Esta)
Was in love for the video of this song. Want everyone in the world to see it because it’s so positive. I’m telling you it actually bothers me that he’s not blown up around the country yet! I know you have to tour around the country first, but come on man…. how slow is the rest of the country going to be!? I need to see these Cali stars tour the country though: there’s too much talent over there being overlooked by the rest of us!
Everyone can relate to what “it’s like to feel so hopeless”
One of the best tracks off the album, and great video. his is one of my favorite videos of the year in terms of how well it was edited/directed. So I go and check YouTub to see who it was directed by: expecting some super-professional established video company: and I see it is edited/directed by himself. Phora Yours Truly. Incredible. A true artist. I have a lot of respect for that. He really knows how to make his videos suitable to his image. Similar to when somebody makes a beat for themself: they know how to make it just perfectly to fit themself.
Some potent quotables:
Ever since I can remember they said I couldn’t do it
Tatts all over told me my future was ruined
But i told them “Get to know me first yeah, I’m still human”
Grandpa asked me “What the hell you think you doing?”
And I said “I’m making music, you should take a listen”
That hit me so hard the first time I listened to it. And he continues with the realness: I have a lot of respect for him on this:
I know I ain’t the best but I ain’t talking about no bitch
I’m talkin’ about no cars or cooking crack in moms kitchen
I’m talkin’ about life and everything that’s in my vision
You can tell how passionate he is about changing people’s lives with this line: and this inspires me because I’d like to change the world too. Thank you Phora for your inspiration.
Yeah I’m still a kid but these niggas need to grow up/And to tell you the truth, I’m the only person i can think of that’s buying kids from the hood cheeseburgers and sodas/I just wanna make a change, man i swear/ The money and the fame ain’t why I’m here
Track 6: 90’s Baby ft InDJnous (Produced by Kixsnare)
Classic 90s beat of course. Def had you ready to hear phora on this. Delivery is raw like an individual freestyle-release vibe. Out to prove something! Cool to hear this different style of beat on the album. The drums are some of the heaviest I’ve heard in a while. Gotta always love scratching: the lost art! So you know I def appreciated the chorus with the scratching. Great to see such a young cat appreciate real hip hop and pay homage to the greats and some of their lyricism. Every young cat who is making a difference in the underground has studied the greats, and Phora is no difference.
Love how he quotes “love it or hate it, the underdogs on top” and delivers that with MAD energy!
Love him talking about “success is the best revenge”
This is a song you don’t want to miss. Check it.
Track 7: The Old Days (Produced by Boonie Mayfield)
Love the transition from the last song. I think transitions are real important in albums and so far the ordering has been smooth as jelly and peanut pancakes.
Got to have a nostalgic song! Easily one of my favorite songs from the album with just all the gems and quotables within it: another song you definitely have to really listen to and inhale, as the intro line suggests:
This that type of joint that you burn, put in your system and roll to.
I ain’t got to spark a blunt im keeping it old school.
The beat is old school boom-bap and futuristic at the SAME time. I love it. Boonie Mayfield lives up to his name delivering a crazy out of left field beat like this, and we see how Phora’s talent is consistently attracting amazing talent on the boards. I personally find it crazy how Phora is able to mesh all these beats together so seamlessly: if we didn’t know otherwise we might think all the beats were produced by one producer. That just shows how well all the songs go together
Some more knowledge he drops with crazy energy:
“See, I ain’t a criminal, just a youngster with problems/ And I don’t show up to school cause the teachers say not to bother/Probably cause they lost HOPE in our generation!/All I needed was some guidance and some elevation.”
Sharing his story about his grandfather is just straight motivational.
85 years old, still keepin it movin with a smile on his face saying “theres still room for improvement”
He ain’t got a big house, and he still pushing a bucket.
But he taught me how to love life even when I had nothing.
I rock my dirty chucks like they were Jordans made of gold.
Jordans made of gold. WOW! We all need role models like this, and I see why right here see how powerfully his grandfather impacted his life. We all need to enjoy life when we have nothing. As we get “success” new problems arise, but what’s the point of life if you can’t be happy in any moment?
Reminisce as he brings us through the good days of Blues Clues and more.
Blues Clues and Cocoa Puffs, before there was a YouTube
Used to walk to school in the rain
Railroads watching the trains, envisioning my name on every one of them!
All my 90’s kids know where im coming from.
Rugrats on Saturday mornings right when the sun is up.
Enjoy the video.
Track 8: Home (Produced by Victor MeiaDois)
Love that singing voice he uses at the beginning. Haven’t seen that before from Phora. So it was a cool switch up to see once in a while.
Coolass beat. Got that 80s afro funky vibe to it by Victor MeiaDois. Phora rides it smoothly like most any song so far on this album
Love the quote “Karma comes back like a receipt after you make that purchase”
Track 9: Secrets (Produced by Quatro)
Beautiful story. I love the concept of having a girl story about secrets.
Mixes well with the crazy sample on the live beat by Quatro
The song tells a heartbreaking story that is sure to affect girls lives who have been through the same thing. My heart goes out to anybody who has had a story like this. Love how the beat quiets during the chorus. It makes the song that much realer. Smart shit.
The line of the song to me is “And if you listen closely you can still hear her crying” And that helped solidify it making it one of my favorite tracks from the album.. if the story wasn’t powerful enough itself!
Fuck. No, forget song of the album, it could be my favorite song of the year it’s so damn beautiful! This needs a video. It reminds me of Immortal Technique’s “You Never Know”, but with a different perspective and more upbeat, and as its basically from the girls side it’s very cool to listen to. Phora does a wonderful job and shows why he is a superior story-teller on this track.
Check it here. But by now you should have been inspired enough to download the tape or support the album!
I know this song has made thousands of people cry.
Track 11: The Breeze (Produced by Eskupe)
Love him dropping from the beginning on this unique beat with that craY synth. Phora really brings it: again why I am calling him the California Bruce Willis. And I hope he adapts this nickname. See the full lyrics here to see what I mean about him dropping from the beginning.
This is another song I would really love to see a video for. Also having a hard time disliking a Phora chorus.
Really like his energy as he brings up the verse after the chorus.
I said I’m on the plane to LAX comin from Reno, auntie told me to stay away from prostitutes and casinos.
Another song proclaiming his anti-drama mindset. Phora doesn’t F with drama. And he proclaims it with energy.
Also gotta love this part:
Left side but I’m reppin, check the ink in my flesh. But the gangs that rock Taylors never heard of Khalifa. But they rep the California, steady burnin up reefer.
Track 12: Make Some Way ft Gavlyn (Produced by Eskupe)
I was so excited when I heard Gavlyn on this track I almost fell off my chair and died happy. I wouldn’t mind seeing an entire Gavlyn Phora album hahah. This back and forth they do I just love it and its on a simple beat for them to maneuver perfectly on. The best beat-makers know how to make the beats that let their MCs shine (9th Wonder, J1K, Eskupe)
Gavlyn brings it tough out the gate with her unique voice, delivery and flow:
“Yeah, they gonna see the outcome. Count my blessings every time I have one. It never comes easy when you lazy on the subject. Wait a sec, why for? Better yet, ready for the mic check. Fuck em, never break a sweat.”
The performance by Gavlyn was ridiculous. Song is full of quotables. They mesh with each other very well.
Phora continues with dopeness:
“Yo, I do this for my family, I do this for my folks. I do this for the cats who used to take me as a joke, the ones that doubted me and said that I’d never amount to nothing. And even though they hate, I’m still brought up in their discussions.”
I’m a huge fan of Gavlyn, Reverie, and Vel The Wonder. If you haven’t heard of them, check this cypher effect with all of them. I could watch it a billion times. I also featured Gavlyn for her “Hectic” Video here produced by DJ Hoppa. Producers United has California Love for sure.
Gavlyn is so cool and classy. Real talk.
Track 13: Mercy ft Illwerd (Produced by Eskupe)
Phora comes in on this hard beat with a friggin vengeance, but you have to hear it together with the beat, love it:
“Tryin to take my style, but it’s cool I never need it back. *BEAT POPS OFF* I always got some new shit. Plus you know it’s raw if my man Eskupe produced it”
One of my favorite tracks of the album: just straight energy and unique bragadocio no lie no pinocchio. I think it’s the best chorus of the album. So dope:
“Lord have mercy on the man who rocks the stage after us. They ask if we’re gonna stay the same, that’s a must. We started from the bottom, and we still here. I said we do this shit for fun, motherfuck a career”
I love that mindset “motherfuck a career”. Phora always gets you to think in a new way. Part of the reason I love him, no homo.
Love the old school Kung-Fu sample Eskupe chose on the beat. Classic. Haha
More Phora dopeness from the track:
“Still ridin with the same scene, hip-hop for life. Hollerin “motherfuck the mainstream, money won’t ever change me”. I’m still at my moms with my homies sippin fortys. Consider yourself lucky if you rock the mic before me“. Swag homie.
Illwerd does his thing too
Track 15: Nothing Like (Sax by Laura Roig, Produced by Eskupe)
Here on this track, we have my friend Laura Roig who plays the sax over Eskupe’s beat beautifully! The best saxophonist I’ve ever heard. And it’s an absolutely incredible track. The beat is classic and the sax adds a layer of deepness to it. Eskupe and Roig make a killer combo: lots of respect to Eskupe.
Introspective fire from the start:
“Yo, there’s nothin like a smart woman that can hold a conversation, knows how to act in public, knows how to be patient. And tells you to wait before you get up in her pants. I understand and see beneath the titties and the ass. I’m tryin to get to know you, all them lames is tryin to hit it. They always in a rush, I like to take my time with it”
Another song where you gotta love the chorus:
“And she ain’t got no homegirls, they all shady. It’s a difference in a bitch and a lady. You feel me? And she ain’t got no homegirls, they all shady. It’s a difference in a bitch and a lady, in a bitch and a lady.”
Track 16: The White Owl (Produced by Eskupe)
One of my favorite songs. Enjoy the singing by Phora on this one as well:
I ain’t seen nobody smile at me in so long
Til i seen your face , and my eyes no longer have tears
Beat is sick. Eskupe doesn’t really know how to disappoint. It’s not in his veins. Guitar sample is sick. Love the ending lines and inspiration about being from the bottom but still being able to see the top. So much truth in this album it should be illegal.
Track 17: Thankful (Produced by Eskupe)
Another of my favorite tracks
What It’s Like, Hope, Secrets, Thankful, The White Owl, Nothing Like, 90s Baby
Superb album. The tracks have to touch you no matter who you are or where you live. Hard to decide between my favorites cause pretty much every track is solid. So quite an accomplishment Phora reached on this album IMO.
I’m really just waiting for his national buzz to pop off, because somehow my friends in Massachusetts still don’t know about him, and I’m trying to change that! Soon, you will hopefully see him connect on a song with some crazy talented Mass talent so the hip hop fanbase in Mass can really get to know him better: and the fanbase in Cali can get to know the Mass rappers better. Let’s start bridging the gap. We are going to promote the hell out of it.
I'm happy to present a very emotional video from friends I Suppose of L.A and J1K of our Producers United...