No Malice - Hear Ye Him (Review)

No Malice - Hear Ye Him

"Hear Ye Him" is the debut solo album by No Malice (formerly Malice of the hip-hop duo Clipse). The album features guest appearances from Pusha T, Ab-Liva, Fam-Lay and others as well as production by Illmind, S1, Chad Hugo and others. It was released on August 18, 2013.

1) Illusions (Interlude) - Skit

2) Smoke & Mirrors (featuring Ab-Liva) - Just like I said in my review of Earl Sweathshirts "Doris", it's always odd to hear the first verse on an album come from a guest instead of from the main artist themselves. In this case, however, the first verse is from Re-Up Gang member Ab-Liva and he actually rips it, so it's easy to get past that small issue. As far as the beat goes, Illmind definitely comes through with a banger as the instrumental has soaring strings, beautiful background vocals and head-nodding drums. Both No Malice and Ab-Liva body the beat and spit about how oppression and life in the hood is just a game of smoke and mirrors and that you should seek the truth instead of living under the illusion that it's real. The lyrics are full of religious references and imagery as No Malice spits:
"Walking dead, clueless, no inkling
Within a twinkling, seeing what I was made of
While y'all speculate Clipse break up
Well think it not strange if I'm Abel to his Cain
Hell, even Esau had a Jacob, I ain't trippin'
And what's with all this swag? I ain't feelin'
Gotta get that money, huh? Nah, I'm chillin'
And I ain't sellin' my soul for no million
Cause that dead-end rap can't even crack its glass ceiling"
This song is really dope. Hopefully the rest of the album is just as good.

3) Blasphemy (featuring Fam-Lay) - No Malice kicks a few rhymes about his maturity in the rap game as well as his newly found faith while frequent Clipse collaborator Fam-Lay just shows up for the chorus. No Malice's flow is still smooth, but it's a little different than it was in the past and sounds much warmer and friendlier than his old delivery which was always very cold. The beat on here, by Cam Calloway, is pretty good, but may come across as too plain for some. It's pretty minimalistic until the chorus, when it builds up to include some horns and DJ scratches. Still, this is dope.

4) Ain't Beggin' (Interlude) - Skit

5) Hear Ye Him - The Profound Sounds instrumental on this song has an epic, triumphant feel to it, with some cinematic horns and powerful piano keys over booming drums. No Malice gets real personal on here and spits about his relationship with his brother, Pusha T, as well as his past selling drugs in the streets. He has given up all of the drugs and hopes his brother will do the same since he wants to see him again in Heaven after they die. The subject matter is honest and heartfelt, but I'm not feeling his flow on this track as much as on the others. It sounds more "preachy" than his usual smooth delivery, but it's a minor issue I guess. Regardless, this song is a banger.

6) Unforgettable (featuring Life Dutchee) - No Malice reminisces about the dark days of his past grinding for money, model cars and model broads over a somewhat uninspired Grip Productions synth instrumental that I'm not diggin' as much as the others on here. Lyrically the song is dope, but the beat is forgettable for me. It's not terrible, but it's definitely not as good as the others so far. Still, No Malice rips it while Life Dutchee only shows up a bit on the chorus. Eh, not bad.

7) Cheap Dolla (Interlude) - Skit

8) Bow Down No Mo' - The Nando Pro beat on this track is very energetic and almost has a slight trap music feel to it. It's full of menacing bells and synths over rapid-fire hi-hats and deep bass, but it's actually pretty good. No Malice rips it yet again, kicking some verses about the dirt he did in the past and how he has changed for the better once he found his faith. Dope shit.

9) Refiner's Fire (Interlude) - Skit

10) Shame The Devil (featuring Pusha T) - Now this is dope. The Clipse reunite for a banger that brings a darker vibe reminiscent of their older sound more than anything else on the album so far. No Malice also changes up his flow to be more in line with his old style as he kicks off the first verse:
"The price of hell has its benefits
I pray you not be ignorant
Clearly I am seeing with
My all-seeing eye, no pyramid
I too was a derelict
The truth raised me from the dead when I became aware of it"
The S1 and Greg Fears Jr. beat is dark and the lyrics are sharp as both emcees simply body the track. While the Thornton brothers sound great solo, they sound even better when sharing the mic. This track is absolute fire.

11) Bury That (featuring Jon Bibbs) - No Malice reverts back to the delivery that he used on a few of the previous tracks (such as the title track) and I'm not really feelin' it that much, especially after hearing how he can still come with that old Clipse sound on the previous track. Despite not really diggin' the delivery, his lyrics are honest and heartfelt as he spits about the rap industry and how it can break you down.
"They would have you think I am at odds with my sibling
How they look alike, yet bear no resemblance
All hail the Clipse and all of their magnificence
But I cannot deny my deliverance
It is no coincidence that God choose to use my brethren
To show the magnitude of these ties I'm severing"
The beat is solemn and reflective, with some soft pianos and soulful vocals by Jon Bibbs. If he came with a harder flow on this song I would probably like it more than I do. With that being said, it's still pretty dope.

12) June (featuring Eric David) - The beat on this track, courtesy of J-Maxx, has some upbeat church organs and soulful background vocals that give the instrumental a strong gospel feel as No Malice raps about his continued success and his quest for forgiveness for the things he has done. This is ok, but not my favorite song on here. The beat is a bit overdone in my opinion. Oh well.
13) Separate (Interlude) - Skit

14) Still Got Love (featuring Ishod) - Michael Etheridge comes through with another soulful instrumental for No Malice to get busy over while Ishod provides the chorus. The beat is pretty good and No Malice comes correct, rapping about still having love for his family and friends, including everyone from Pusha T to The Neptunes and the rest of his Star Trak family. Not bad, but not the best on here.

15) Different (featuring PK Oneday and Bri) - The beat on this track, courtesy of PK Oneday, is another upbeat, soulful instrumental with light synths, soaring background vocals and some handclaps thrown in for good measure. No Malice raps about knowing that he is different from other rappers and about how he is paving his own lane in the rap industry. Nice.

16) Goin' There (Interlude) - Skit

17) No Time (featuring Jaeson Ma) - This is the only song on the album that features any production from frequent collaborators The Neptunes in the form of a Chad Hugo instrumental. The beat is similar to a few other Chad Hugo beats in that it features some trippy synths layered over an ill drum pattern. No Malice comes through and raps about being in a different mindstate than he was back when he first started rapping. This is pretty dope, but isn't anything mind blowing for a closer track.

I'm going to rate the album

3 / 5

because it's actually pretty good. No Malice is on point lyrically on mostly every song, kicking honest rhymes about his faith and the changes he has made to his life in recent times. His flow and delivery are iffy on a few tracks, but the strong lyrical performance more than makes up for it. The beats, however, are a little more hit-or-miss, with a few generic instrumentals sneaking in amidst the stronger ones. My only other complaint about the album is the overabundance of skits, which tend to slow down the pacing of the album a bit despite tying in to the religious theme nicely. Still, the project is not bad as a whole and should definitely be on your radar.


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