Sur5ILL_Exception-frontOver the past year we’ve featured an up and coming artist from Boston who calls himself Sur5ill. We were drawn to his brand of nerd rap and Work mixtape, and captivated by his ability to blend complex lyricism, clever punch lines, and vivid storytelling all within the framework of a concept record. With his latest mixtape, Exception, Sur5ill brings all of these elements together yet again in an impressive manner. In many ways, Exception conveys the tale of a man maneuvering through life balancing inner-city tendencies with both self- societally-imposed expectations.

From a lyrical standpoint, his bars are carefully crafted throughout. Sur5ill uses strong rhyme patterns and a healthy variance of flows, tones (sometimes on his own, sometimes via vocal effects), and deliveries. Right off the bat, on the first track, appropriately titled, “Exception To The Rule Intro”, Sur5ill transitions from a mid-tempo, sharp couplet based delivery into a double-timed staccato flow to conclude the track. What’s great about the switch-up is that he announces it in the rhyme leading up to such, rapping, “now, I, have some bravado, I rap in stoccato…” He’s not only displaying his skills, he’s telling us what to check for. I can dig it.

Track by track, he gives us a glimpse into many of the internal tug-of-wars he experiences throughout his journey. For example, my favorite moment on the record comes on the hook for a track entitled, “Honor Thy Father”, where Sur5ill discusses the impact and intricacies of his relationship with his father. He simply states, in an almost resigned yet matter-of-fact tone, “I ain’t trying to be social, I’m just trying to be pleasant.” As a stand-alone bar, it’s a relatable sentiment, at least to me. We all have moments where we engage, and maybe even enjoy a little schmoozing; some more than others. But for the most part, much like Sur5ill’s line, I’d rather just keep to self, more often than not. I’m glad you’re well, let’s catch up another time… In the larger context of the track, it evokes a lot more than just relatability. And that’s why I dig this song. It’s deep. Sur5ill is clever, funny, confident, and boastful at various points throughout the mixtape, but taking nothing away from the stellar bar for bar composition of this track, it stands out because it’s powerful. It’s a moment of honest self-reflection, accented by an ethereal sounding beat that feels equal parts banger and trance, but driven by the sheer potency of the lyrics. Here’s and example:

Like father like son’s dumb, it’s a sentiment I run from

Candidly, it’s all a bunch of bullshit and I shunned tons

Yeah, think about it: that’s a lot of dung flung

I drown in fucking rum punch this damage can’t be undone

What’s alarming to me is the farmers believe

That the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree