With Clear Soul Forces final album, ForcesWithYou, now available the group’s feelings of excitement, anxiety, and relief are palpable. All four members have been eager to share their swan song as a crew, especially after more than a decade’s worth of fire to their collective name. And with this, their fifth full-length release, we all get to revel in the Voltron-like energy that runs through ForcesWithYou.
It’s fitting, of course, that they’d all put their foot into their last project and go out on a high note. But it’s also the way they’re doing that, with an incredibly cohesive listen. At a trim ten tracks, there’s no bloat on ForcesWithYou. Instead, it’s track after track of everything you’d want from CSF—four emcees straight spitting over neck-snapping beats from group member Ilajide, who handles production on eight tracks, with Radio Galaxy crafting the other two.
You can hear an urgency as soon as the opening cut “Gimmie the Mic” bangs out of your speakers. The funky, melodic Radio Galaxy production sets it off as all four members swap bars with a razor-sharp precision. And that vibe continues to the next song, “Bussaflow”—a pure banger produced by Ilajide and featuring scratches from Illadope—and never lets up through the closing track and lead single, “Chip$.” We also have to shout out CSF’s collective favorite cut, “Nine 5ive,” a candidate for best rap track of the year.
That level of immaculate consistency runs not just through the album, but the group’s entire career. And it stems from a desire to be leaders, much like the Star Wars characters (Jedi) referenced in the record’s title. “I definitely feel like we played our role as leaders within hip-hop, representing a city like Detroit and not falling into the same pattern of making music that we saw so many people succumb to,” says Emile V.
L.A.Z added to that notion: “We keep it real and don’t do corny, contrived shit. I dig that about us and I think that’s what makes us special in the scene. We embody so many different aspects of hip-hop and black life in general that it’s crazy.”
ForcesWithYou may be the culmination of CSF as a group, but it’s certainly not the end. Expect to hear music from all four members in varying capacities, and as L.A.Z said, who knows, maybe they’ll get together again. For now, it’s time to celebrate with ForcesWithYou, which is available now digitally as well on CD and vinyl in both classic black and an exclusive purple splatter, via Fat Beats Records.
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