To say “Devil On My Shoulder” lives up to its hype would be an understatement. Throughout the album’s 16 tracks, Pro-Lif-ik demonstrates that he has one of the top flows in the game. He also amps up his production chops, providing tracks that comfortably stand in line, with those of his peers. “Devil On My Shoulder” is Pro-Lif-ik’s first album under the new entertainment label, Excitement South Entertainment, in conjunction with Surgeonhouse Records. A major theme of the album revolves around a personal struggle between good and evil.
From the orchestral-led drum-heavy “Intro” to the glitching beat of “Rihanna”, and onto the stripped down soulful rap of “Go To Hell”, Pro-Lif-ik pulls equally from golden age and new class artists, creating a 12-track head-bobber that carefully balances its raw raps and throbbing beats.
But it’s the title track, “Devil On My Shoulder”, and “Beautiful” that captures the album at its most essential. Another intriguing element to the album is the lack of features from any other artists, a very uncommon occurrence for a hip-hop studio record. However when you listen to the album you understand why features are not necessary.
This is Pro-Lif-ik’s story. His mindset. His statement. And as such, he doesn’t need a collaborator to narrate his tales for him. What impresses me most about this record is how the stories of one man can come across so eloquently and be so representative of the struggles of so many people.
The result is that “Devil On My Shoulder” is the kind of record that listeners will look back upon 10 years from now with great fondness, because it talks as much about their emotions as it does about Pro-Lif-ik’s.
Many of the characters described in the narratives have a familiar feel in some way, as if these are stories about our friends, neighbors, or ourselves. It’s not so much that life isn’t easy, but instead nearly impossible! It’s not that hard work eventually pays off, but it is instead a fact of life that we need to remain almost permanently overworked to get anywhere at all.
Maintaining a solid sense of self amidst these challenges turns into whimsical musings and poignant insights into life. Through talking his own mind and experiences, Pro-Lif-ik delivers astute social commentary that gives us all pause for reflection.
The work ethic that he puts into his recordings is something rarely found these days. Pro-Lif-ik is ambitious with an extremely bright mind and with a phenomenal sense of humility. The music itself is robust and warm. I look forward to hearing more in the future and to seeing where Pro-Lif-ik’s deep and relevant ideas go next!