Album Review: Rendezvous by Skinnyy Hendrixx
About 1:30 into Rendezvous, the new EP by Skinnyy Hendrixx, it becomes clear that this four-song record is going to go hard. Real hard. So hard that it’s feels unfair that an MC can pack so much into just fourteen minutes of runtime. Well, twelve and half if you disregard those first ninety seconds.
It’s not that “Baby,” the opening track, starts off dull. Actually, it’s pretty great. It spends a good amount of time examining a rich musical backdrop that’s been meticulously constructed. Lavish sonic twinkles descend as gliding vocals create a heavenly, moving atmosphere. Like I said, pretty great… but not exactly game changing. No, the “game changing” aspect comes when Skinnyy Hendrixx makes his grand rhyming entrance. Within seconds, the ferocious MC has flipped the song on its head with a flow so jaw-dropping that it instantly switches the song from polishing diamonds for rings to filing them down into tiny daggers. Bars come out effortlessly with Hendrixx changing his cadence nearly every musical phrase, while still leaving time to accentuate the cap of every line he’s dutifully penned. It’s a stunning track and just the start of the sublime hip-hop journey Hendrixx has charted.
The production here is impeccable, placing Hendrixx in a different setting throughout each track. At first, he’s crashing down opulence on “Baby” before moving to a murmuring meditation on the title track. He strides through a hazy midnight on “$lide Thru” and then settles for a sleek ride with pounding synths on “Scenic Route.” Tight. Crisp. Soulful. Memorable. Even with an average MC, these songs would be pleasing to the ear. But as you’ve gathered here, Hendrix is not average. He’s utterly superb and his presence takes these already enjoyable songs to the next level, making them exhilarating whether you’re hanging at a bustling party or just stopped at a traffic light.
The brilliance of Skinnyy Hendrixx’s hip-hop chops is that he never pigeon-holes himself into one specific area. In “Rendezvous,” he’s dancing with golden age wordplay (“I’m tenderloinous with the flu / I want that lake house with the view / Some fried lake trout with a brew“). Later on “Scenic Route,” he’s feverishly unloading snappy bars that are overloading with syllables, while still making sure every word is heard and felt as strongly as when he’s rapping in syncopation. Slow it down. Speed it up. It doesn’t matter — Hendrixx has a different approach for them all that makes each song feel particular, yet still familiar thanks to his charismatic talent.
Hendrixx’s body of work has always been impressive. Lucid Work remains a banger four years after its release while “The Illusion” has been stuck on repeat since it came out earlier this year. But Rendezvous is especially special. It shows off his sly ear for beats that his own rhymes will enhance. It shows off his tempered writing style that lets him shine just as bright in short tirades as it does in drawn-out expositions. It even shows off that Hendrixx can share the limelight — we haven’t even talked about Madam V’s great verse on the back-half of “Baby.” Most importantly though, Rendezvous shows just how naturally gifted Hendrixx is and how he continues to grind to improve that talent.
Richmond has some real heavyweights in the hip-hop scene, but after this EP, Skinnyy Hendrixx has proved without a shadow of a doubt that he belongs in any conversation about the best MC in town.
Rendezvous is out now via Smooth League Villains, available to stream and purchase on all platforms. (Link).