Sometimes an album comes out of nowhere to surprise me. I don’t know the caliber of the emcee and have relatively no expectations going in and it just blows me away. The Element of Surprise by Rashad and Confidence is such an album. If you haven’t heard of it, I suggest you visit Google. Other times an emcee is known for their quality and releases an album that far surpassed my expectations. OC did this with Jewelz. Sure, OC was incredible. His debut was incredible. But Jewelz took it to another level. I wasn’t surprised that it was good. I was surprised that it was way better than good. And this is the case with Glory in the Weight by Tab-One.
Tab-One is no slouch when it comes to dope music. He has been around for a long time propelling good music and the culture forward. He did this in college by organizing Hip-Hop events. He did this as part of Inflowential, as a part of Kooley High, and he has also done it as a solo emcee releasing a few really dope projects. His last album, Balancing Act, came out in 2020 and was excellent. So I headed into his new album knowing that it would be good. But oh my goodness, I didn’t realize it would be this good!
The very first song “Keep On” perfectly sets the mood for the rest of the album which is a comfortable experience. The bass throughout the album offers a nice landing pad for the listener to get situated. Tab-One’s presence is a gift. He has something to say. He has plenty to say actually as he opens up throughout the album. However, it is his delivery that makes all his content go down so easily. His voice is not disrupting. It settles into the production and becomes another instrument. “Keep On” does all of this right away so we know what we just stepped into.
It only gets better. In fact, two of my favorite songs on the album are the last two! This album is like the gift that keeps on giving! More on those two later. First I want to highlight something else I absolutely love on this album. We can hear it as soon as track #3 “Do Work” comes on: keys. But not like traditional piano keys. These are like Fender Rhodes keys and they are so beautiful. That sound doesn’t stop after “Do Work.” Nope. It is just getting started. We hear this similar instrument throughout the album. Again, just so beautiful.
Then there are the drums. Some are really getting into that minimal drum movement and that’s cool. I like some of it, especially KA who I think is one of the greatest emcees ever. Period. But, I like drums! And the drums on this album are great. They fit the vibe so, so well. Nothing feels out of place. There are conga sounds, great usage of high hats, deep kicks, soulful crispy snares and rim shots: it is all there. Every song features the coming together of every instrument along with Tab-One’s voice to create a darn near perfect feel. Did I say this was a really good album?
Finally, let me suggest that Tab-One is masterful in his lyrical delivery. I already mentioned that he does a great job of making his voice sound like another instrument. In addition, he shares some very heartfelt lyrics that connect. He does this throughout the album but I want to dive into the final two songs to illustrate this point. On “Self Doubt” he raps, Doomed by ego and vacuums of vanity. Don’t let it suck you in. Go and handle it. I dove into doubt and then emerged with a candle lit and I’m sick of job interviews asking about my passion. It ain't that I ain’t got it. It's just that I got to ration it. That very last line does a few things. First, it provides a glimpse and offers an invitation. Well, why does Tab-One have to ration his passion? Do I have to do that? Why can’t I give myself fully to my passion? You see what’s happening. This line provides for a dialogue with the listener. The other thing it does is showcase how a line on paper can be good but when you hear it, it is so much better! I mean that’s a dope line. It has meaning. It's cool. But when you hear how he delivers it you experience how beautiful words can sound when rapped rhythmically over the perfect beat. Give it a listen and see if you agree.
The final song on the album is probably my favorite, “Breath.” I love everything about this song. The lyrical content, the beat, the hook, the verses, everything. It just makes me want to be happy. After an album full of melancholy reflection, this is the perfect ending. It is more upbeat in tone, more hopeful. Just breathe. It is going to be okay. Just remember to breathe. Thought I heard God whispering in the breeze. As it moved through the leaves in the trees. Felt a calm wash over. Walked in the ease.
There you go. Regardless of whether you believe in God or divinity, I think we can agree that there is beauty in this world. I definitely found it while listening to Glory in the Weight. I do every time I give it another spin. Now, let’s see if you do too.