This is an entry in an ongoing series for 303 Magazine, which will provide a range of local album reviews. It is our intention to highlight the talents of local musicians, whether veterans to the industry or newcomers. Like the bands, the album can be fresh or something we just haven’t had the power to take off repeat in the past few months. Check out previous entries in the series here.
2019 has been a great year for Denver music. As of March 19, that includes TheyCallHimAP’s fourth album in four years, Wins. Wins is preceded by 2016’s Crown, 2017’s 3AM and 2018’s Solid Gold. Wins comes at a pivotal moment for the rapper and serves as the perfect opportunity to shed light on the path that he has taken to get where he is. Real name Anthony Porch, TheyCallHimAP is easily one of the best rappers our city has to offer and this new album deserves a listen in anyone’s ear.
The album begins sensually and slowly with “Thankful” along with Squizzy Taylor. Most know Squizzy from his work as the official DJ for Cash Money’s Trev Rich as well his experience playing with Rick Ross, T.I., Lil Uzi Vert, YG, Rich Homie Quan, A$AP Mobb, Snoop Dogg, Future and others. “Thankful” is the first track, but it is the second track, “Saturday”that brings the album up to its true beginning, taking off with a fiery piano sample and choral involvement in between quick-witted quips.
The following tracks feed out a row of bangers, with “Ugly Truth,” “Ties,” “First Place” and “Master Shifu.” The latter brings a cultural shift to Asia, with a beat that dances into music familiar of a kung-fu setting, toasted with rambunctiously spit words floating at fire pace. “Paranoid” is a song that offers a deeper perspective and feeds into the fear we all have with the people that we allow closer access into our lives.
It is a song like “Felicia” that can turn the half-way mark of a release and lift it to its dramatic height, with its reference to the classic movie Friday while alluding to a series of manipulative relationships. “Fair Trade,” exposes Porch’s drive and desire to reach the ultimate position in his craft, and it is the featuring of another local musician, Keenan Trevon, that sends the fierce lyrics of the rapper into a melodic sing-a-long that is integral to any rap song.
The titular track “Wins” is one of the most satisfying of all the songs on this release. The layers that pile on the inspirational message fold together in harmony, and its content forces contemplation. “Outlaws” serves similarily, also pushing its listener to take control and get the same success as the author. “Outlaws” also brings the release its catchiest hook, one that fans will be sure to belt out loud during a live rendition.
“Sometimes” settles the hyped songs into a cloud of ethereal dust, allowing a different sound to join the deep, rhythmic rap delivery. The alternating tone gives the album another avenue of discussing the trials and tribulations that it takes to get someone to the top. Keenan Trevon comes again, assisting with his angelic croon. “Honest,” the bonus track offering for Wins, wraps up the project with a boppy yet complex portrayal of wanting to make moves, and either being too drunk, either literally by alcohol or figuratively by success, thus balancing out the complete message of Wins.
The 19-track project is a big step for Porch — with its muscular lyrics and enchanting beats, Wins is sure to be a tough album to beat out this year in the local scene. TheyCallHimAP has already given Denver so many reasons to love him, and it does not appear that he is going anywhere but up from here.