bandcamp.com screenshot

Evolution, the newest album from Donnell Black Jr. (aka juicethedon), is a leap forward for the rapper. Some of the tracks on the LP throw the pop song structure to the wind, cutting out the hooks in favor of Don’s urgent words.

Some songs, like the lo-fi freestyles “Flowers” and “One of Mine,” drop the beat completely, letting Don get as creative as he wants with his rhymes and flow.

“My inspiration for those non traditional beats really had to be my dire need to be different,” Don said. “I don’t wanna rap like anyone else.”

The opener, “Evolution,” is the most straight-ahead rap song on the album. “I haven’t got the chance to live my life to the fullest yet/ I’m free, but I’m living incarcerated/ It’s always a demand for a Black life/ Modern day slavery,” he raps over a jazzy beat.

The Wu-Tang-influenced “Unbothered” is a surprising turn for an album packed with relaxing jazz and soul beats. As Evolution progresses, the lyrics shifts its focus to the topic of feelings and emotion. In a sense, the LP follows a thoroughfare that changes again and again. The starting point is different than where Don ends Evolution, but it’s a slow fluctuation that’s anchored by Don’s socially-focused lyrics.

Check it out on Apple Music, Tidal and Spotify.