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With clever lyrics, creative and fresh instrumentation, and a flair for showing off, Gonzo & Beez are the newest hot duo in the hip-hop/R&B sphere. With their first album together, “None the Wiser,” they more concretely proved that their skills could extend to a full-length effort. After dropping “Minute Steak,” which debuted several months ago, their work has gained traction amongst the Elon University community, and with any luck, the world will be hearing their tunes soon.
Their story might be familiar: two dudes from college are dropping music with the dream of making it big. But unlike most, this duo has the talent to take them there. Sophisticated production and honed-in delivery create a sound recognizable to the ear of many listeners, giving the illusion they’re artists with thousands of streams a day. It’s not often a college dorm room can produce mastered music that would pass as a top-50 album.
Another impressive aspect of their work is their affinity for genre-bending. The album flows from rap, to R&B, to rock n’ roll, while sprinkling in some jazz and country influences before coming back to rap. “None the Wiser” may be most remembered for its many upbeat rap verses from Gonzo & Beez, but their ability to switch up the vibe at a moment’s notice is what makes the album so likable.
The stripped-down instrumental of “Minute Steak” still provides the same thought-provoking feeling as before but on an album full of experimentation. It also serves as a central point for a track where the listener can relax and ponder the songs that came before it. Having a recognizable song right smack dab in the middle of the project is an uncommon move and one that pays dividends.
The pair compliment each other’s talents extremely well. Upon first listen, it can feel like Beez is the deep-voiced rapper, complemented by Gonzo’s harmonies all over the album. But further and closer listening shows each of them taking up both of those roles at different points. While Beez might lean on his rapping and Gonzo his melody, their mutual awareness means neither takes the spotlight from the other. They’re Chris Paul and Blake Griffin during prime Lob City, but with the twist that Blake is also tossing lobs to CP3.
“Hold on Me” rocks a head-boppin’ piano section, as each rapper takes turns rocking the beat. Gonzo rips it with clever sports references “Feeling lightheaded like Sammy Sosa” and “Tryna go pro with my brother like Pouncey.” Beez doesn’t lose momentum, keeping the goofy feeling going: “Bars too sweet, Minute Maid.” These cultural references and willingness to step outside of the too-serious stereotype of young rappers is crucial to their personality as a duo.
“Rearview” cements their abilities as a rapping duo. For those too shy to love the duo’s more experimental side, Gonzo & Beez’s rap skills will always be there. A loopy guitar sample spurs the track, as each artist spits their verse with calm and flexible delivery. Once again, Gonzo takes the track into the end zone with a beautiful delivery full of blues, resolving all the tension built up during the track.
Gonzo takes the reins on “Careless,” taking his time to flex his singing and instrumental skills with an entrancing guitar section. It’s a reminder of his jack-of-all-trades ability, making his rap verses across the album even more impressive.
“Misfit” brings together many themes from the album — these are two artists that have felt like outcasts at many points, and some pensive verses allow for a more personal look into their thought process.
The album closes with “Rockstar,” a pensive track that sees the duo reflect on the state of the culture, lamenting modern rappers that aren’t saying much and criticizing the cops for their racism. The track tails off as Beez concludes the final verse of the album, opening space for the listener to imagine just what’s next.
It’s as important as ever to hear the perspectives of young people. And while you might forget this is a pair of young artists at the helm due to their professional-quality mastering, their music can be compared toe-to-toe with some of the most famous musicians out there. Don’t hesitate to stream “None the Wiser,” out on all platforms.