Bar Exam: Social Club – Into The Night (Album)
A One Listen Review
Social Club has an interesting style that in some ways is unmatched across the scope of the entire music industry. Early on, like six years ago, when I began to get acquainted with them I’d hear that “Social Club is the best” drop, or Marty comparing himself to a power ranger and I’d roll my eyes. Are these guys for real? Truthfully, music should be about having fun and they exemplify that. It’s just that sometimes when I show up to a restaurant I don’t always just want the appetizers, I want to move on to a full meal. Now since the roll out of the singles from this album, and the way Marty and Fern have been talking about their new music, they’ve been saying that they’ve changed. “Into The Night” is a thirteen track album with numerous features, and production from some Wit, Daniel Steele, 42 North, Alex Medina, and Beam to name a few. Let’s find out what is different this time around.
I press play on “Nightmare” and without hesitation or even a handshake they’re in my face with HEAT. Marty and Fern swap lines back and forth. “The devil’s worst nightmare…us.” “This is grace fix your face when you see this view…” “In my brain my voice sounds like Morgan Freeman/I’m Willie Beamen dodging demons diving off the deep end to reach Misfits nobody believes in.” Inject this into my veins.
Track two has a slow fade into a trippy beat. Beam with some melodic stuff on the hook. Song seems to be about diving in and becoming fishers of men. Fern grows with intensity as his verse progresses and switches to double time at the end. Beam’s feature I don’t feel added or subtracted from the overall thing. This is still all above the bar.
A Change Of Direction
“War Cry” is a pop anthem. While I’m listening I’m reminded of Matthew 5:16 – “May your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” It’s a call to rise up and share the gospel with those who need to hear it. Tauren Wells is on a pretty good run at the moment, his feature is very nice. This track though is a strange change of direction for me after listening to the first two tracks. The emotion is there, but sonically it took awhile for my ears and brain to engage and accept that this was happening.
“Into The Night” begins with the hook and then the beat drops. This whole track is very well thought out. Fern absolutely brings it on his first verse, changing dynamics and the beat follows suit. Marty flies above the bar on his verse as well. Chris Batson is on the hook, and while this spot is well written, his performance is nothing special except when you take into account the production choices around him that enhance what he’s doing. Producers take notes here. You can change how certain spots feel and sound by adding or taking away layers. Don’t settle, make every part of your art meaningful.
And now the cast of American Idol bring you the Christian version of “Despacito.” 😂 Seriously though… “Tuyo” is sonically perfect and well done. I did some digging and found out that “Tuyo” means “yours,” and thanks to rapgenius.com I have some translations on Danny Gokey’s hook. “I do not know about money/Not much of fame/But I know that I love you/And I know you love me/Let it be heard in the sky/I will scream with desire/That I am yours/I’m only yours” Above the bar musically as well as content.
“Happy Accident” brings in a simple beat, but chooses to pull back and add samples in places to give it different texture as we roll along. Fern’s verse at the top is fire, he moves to a triplet flow. Marty matches his excellence and brings it home.
Track 7 is called “Lucky” and is about how you are to use the gifts God gave you instead of waiting around and leaving it up to chance that you’d make a difference in the world. It’s pretty poppy with Ian Everson’s buttery vocals on the hook, but it’s on point and solid. (They’re really 10 projects in?)
Track 8 seems to be about saying goodbye to the old Social Club. It’s got that East Coast drum kit beat on it, and some electric guitars layer in later. Nice production from 42 North and Wit.
“Number One” is all Fern, with Rugah Rahj on the hook. Topically the song is about how the last shall be first and is a little bragging on what God has done. This is a strong effort, and Fern carries it well. “They trying to be on the page we on/But we way beyond/wavy, Evian/Lyrically they could never match the pace that we on/Number one, slumber none, obstacles overcome/I over work the work till the work’s overdone”
Track 10, “Sinatra/Cash” begins with some really cool beat drop outs early on and the beat changes as the song progresses, switches entirely underneath Marty’s verse. Yeah this production is crazy. In the first verse Fern talks about how you’ve got one life, you’ve made decisions as well as mistakes but the undertaker still comes for everyone. The content there is solid but it’s Marty who shines on this track. I dig the honesty and sharing of the struggle, it’s what makes us human. ”I thought if I made it I would be happier/Friends start acting weird saying that I’m Hollywood/Depression in my mind saying I should quit/But I’m not here because I failed/I’m here because I didn’t/Still living one day at a time/Don’t care about your top 5 when most of mine are gone..”
For the next two songs there’s a break in energy for me. There’s nothing necessarily wrong about these two, they just didn’t fire on the same cylinders as the rest of the project. “Clear” features Foggieraw and he comes with some mumble rap that sounds great and doesn’t detract from the rest of the tune. “The One Of A Kind One” has a nice bed of horns and bass lines, with some autotune vocals. While Marty carries the song well and speaks on the success they’ve experienced, the content I feel is a bit lacking. It’s still a nice tune and this section is at the bar.
We finish out “Into The Night” with one more Spanish tune. “Solo” is a prodigal son type song with Evan Craft on the hook, and the vibes here are sooo nice. One more translation from rapgenius and we get a little more insight to the content: “Although I do not deserve it You always gave me your love/You have what is eternal/And you always give me your warmth/I think without you I’ll die/And it would fill me with pain/You’re always here/You never left me”
This was an exciting album all around. Social Club brings so many different on ramps for the listener. They are versatile in style and technique so they appeal to more than just the normal hip hop heads. Musically they switch effectively back and forth between pop and hip-hop, and conceptually they bounce around between swagged out flows and spiritually challenging topics. The biggest changes that Social Club made, that I noticed upon my first listen were centered around their intention to share the Gospel and point to a real relationship with Christ. I feel like these overtones have always been there, it’s just that for me with “Into The Night” these intentions were more focused. With above the bar production throughout and just a slight slump factor, I find this album to be Above the Bar.
Overall Rating: Above The Bar