"When the Moon Shines..." is the latest album from Queens, NY hip-hop artist The AbSoulJah. The album features no guest appearances, but does feature production from Profound, B-Sun and I.N.C.H. It was released on January 23, 2015 via Team Thoro Music and comes limited bonus disc with the purchase of AbSoulJah's "Dim The Light" album, which was one of my top albums of 2014.
1) Moon Shine - The first song on the album finds The AbSoulJah kicking some of his signature vivid street raps over a head nodding B-Sun instrumental. The beat is real dark and gloomy, with foreboding pianos over stomping boom-bap drums, and AbSoulJah rips it. Very dope way to start off the album. - 4.25/5
2) Rituals - The beat on this cut, courtesy of Profound, is also dark as hell, with an ominous sample and ambient synths over threatening drums and bass. The instrumental is exactly the kind of beat I want to hear AbSoulJah rap over and he doesn't disappoint, spitting some street knowledge while keeping with the darker tone of the production. This shit is hard. - 4/5
3) Diary Diabolical - The AbSoulJah raps about the harsh reality of the streets over another bleak instrumental from Profound, this time with haunting vocals and synths over the head nodding drums. I'm really feelin' the production on the album so far and AbSoulJah always comes correct with his rhymes. Another very dope track. - 4/5
4) At Your Service - I.N.C.H. comes through with the production on this track, upping the energy level of the album a bit and delivering an epic instrumental centered around a cinematic vocal sample, subtle synths and crazy scratching over hard ass drums. This is the most aggressive beat on the album so far and AbSoulJah sounds right at home over it, spitting some boastful bars while still keeping his rhymes full of references to the street life. - 4.25/5
5) Graying - B-Sun returns to production duties on this cut and comes with what is probably the lightest instrumental on the album so far (despite it still being relatively dark). The beat is dope though, with what sounds like distorted pianos or strings and light chimes over gritty drums, and is a nice change of pace from the more mournful feel of the first few tracks. As far as the rhymes go, The AbSoulJah gets a little more personal on here while rapping about how time keeps on ticking and he is still here. I really like this one. - 4.25/5
6) Most Essentially - This song finds The AbSoulJah kicking some personal rhymes as well as some intellectual street shit over yet another ill Profound instrumental that has more in common with the beat on the previous song than any of the others before it. The dark feel is still there, but it's toned down a little. I'm really feelin' this one as well. - 4/5
7) Fell Down - The beat on this cut, courtesy of B-Sun, is centered around a distorted vocal loop and upbeat drums that come together to be one of my favorite beats on the entire project (which is quite a feat, I must say). Lyrically the song is just as dope as the production, with AbSoulJah "examining his soul" and rapping about all of the bullshit that goes on in the world today. - 4.25/5
8) You Heard - B-Sun delivers another standout instrumental on this cut, coming with beautiful pianos and some chimes over dusty drums that definitely have got my head nodding. As for the rhymes, AbSoulJah keeps with the tone of the past few tracks and spits some more somber and heartfelt rhymes about the life that he lives. - 4.25/5
9) One Hug Away - The AbSoulJah kicks some more personal and honest rhymes about his life and struggles over an upbeat Profound instrumental. The chopped up vocal and string sample definitely ups the energy level of the album after the more moody previous tracks and helps this song stand out in the overall scope of the album. - 4/5
10) Raw Instincts - The album comes around full circle as this song finds AbSoulJah rapping over the darkest instrumental on the project since "Diary Diabolical". The beat, by Profound, is pretty bleak and the rhymes from AbSoulJah are extremely vivid. Dope way to close out the album. - 4/5
I'm going to rate the album
4.25 / 5
because it's really good. This album seemed to come out of nowhere for me and I was extremely excited to check it out considering AbSoulJah's history of consistently dropping dope projects. The beats and rhymes on here are exactly what you would expect to find on an AbSoulJah project - vivid, descriptive and sometimes personal street rhymes over hardcore instrumentals that are usually very dark. While most of the production may be ominous and threatening, there are always a few tracks where AbSoulJah really opens up about himself and the production gets more beautiful and reflective. It's these spots where the album truly shines, in my opinion. With that being said, the shit is still dark no matter how you look at it. Overall, "When the Moon Shines..." is yet another strong entry in AbSoulJah's outstanding discography. Stream and cop it below.