With a brooding vocal/piano harmony to get us started on the right note, Philly Black’s “On My Way” unfurls a passionate collection of lyrics and lush instrumentation instantly upon pressing play. Steeped in the emotional thrust of an equally powerful bassline, this piano-based hip-hop ballad is an anthem of inspiration amidst incredible darkness; when taking into account the state of society nowadays, it couldn’t be arriving at a more pivotal time this spring. There are a lot of credible rappers making a mark on the independent market at the moment, but if you’re looking for something forward-thinking and wholly natural in tone, what Philly Black lays down here is definitely a tough number for even the most talented of players to contend with.

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The bass is super muscular in this track, but it never comes even close to treading overindulgent waters. There isn’t a lot of separation between the low-end tonalities and the grinding of the percussion, but I don’t think there needed to be. To some extent, by making this mix as intensely tight as he did, Philly Black steers entirely clear of the muddy, pseudo-surreal sound so many rappers have been trying – and failing – to capture in their own work recently. He doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who has any desire to follow the beat of someone else’s drum in “On My Way;” instead, I believe he makes it pretty clear through his firm execution that blazing his own trail in this business is of upmost importance to his mission in life.

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Lyrically speaking, there’s no avoiding the venom-laced lyrical shards that Philly Black dispenses with ease from beginning to end here. With that said, even his most seething of verses has a cathartic counterpart in the grander scheme of things, as if to remind us that even the hardest of nights can give birth to a fresh day once the morning sun comes around. He doesn’t have to depend on any of the silly metaphors or tired innuendo that so many mainstream rappers have to in “On My Way;” he’s speaking from the heart in these harmonies, and making it next to impossible for us to walk away not feeling impacted by what we’ve just listened to.

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“On My Way” comes to a conclusion on the back of one final wave of melodicism from the chorus, and as it fades into the silence from which it rose so gallantly some four minutes prior, its beat seems to linger for a minute after the music ceases to play. This is a surprisingly addictive piece of hip-hop balladry, and while I’ve always considered myself to be pretty selective when it comes to this strain of rap, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t taken by Philly Black’s evocative approach here. He’s got a legit future ahead of him in this industry, and if this single and Summer Forever, his 2020 LP, are his sonic blueprint, the accolades surrounding his output have only just begun.

Nicole Killian

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