Story by Wesley McIntyre / Staff Writer
With “Conversation” Pistol Play, also known as Henry Johnson, displays his signature genres and moods of trap, nostalgia and a roaring bass, while also taking major ventures into hip-hop, dubstep and harsh noise.
“’Conversation’ is about friendships,” Henry Johnson, a Recording Industry major at MTSU, said in an interview. Some tracks, such as “Argument” and how it spews petty, offensive insults and “Days Remembered” with its intense nostalgia, might take you back to young and old memories with friends and family.
Considering the length, production and popularity of the album, “Conversation” is Pistol Play’s biggest and best accomplishment to date.
While many artists make both successful and unsuccessful attempts at combining different genres together, Pistol Play perfects this practice by molding the genres of trap, drum and bass, hip-hop, dubstep, electronic and harsh noise into this single album.
Part of the impressiveness of this mold of genres is how the entire album consists of tracks that flow well together and support one another. Pistol Play is obviously experimenting a lot with his sound on this album, but he doesn’t sound lost, nor does his vision seem muddled.
The album expresses many different moods. The eeriness of the intro to “Pure Mad,” the energy of “LOUD HOURS” and the nostalgia of “Days Remembered” take previous moods that Pistol Play has incorporated into his music and expands on the emotionality and musicality used to express them.
Pistol Play wastes no time in delivering his loud, hard-hitting drops, as it’s only two and a half minutes into the album when, during “Pure Mad,” the first drop hits and sets the pace for the album.
Following “Pure Mad” is “LOUD HOURS ft. Conflict.” Originally released as a single, the song is fierce, abrasive and in-your-face. The track features an ear-splitting bass during the chorus, a grooving, head-bobbing flow in the post-chorus and is carried by its exceptional production. The song’s thrashy bass mixed with Conflict’s crushing rap encourages the listener to get hyped for the rest of the album.
“The Boro (Part 1)” and “Days Remembered” really exemplify Pistol Play’s balance of his dynamics. His subtle buildups and smooth transitions are masterfully done and can be seen throughout most of the album.
His balance of dynamics is perhaps best seen between the two tracks “Argument” and “No Word From God But You Are What I Need.” “Argument” is arguably (no pun intended) the grittiest, most threatening track on the album while “No Word From God But You Are What I Need” is one of the softer tracks on the album, but the two tracks fit amazingly well next to each other.
The smooth and subtle transitions can be found between all the tracks, and makes for an album worthy of listening all the way through in one sitting.
In the beginning of “Argument,” guest rapper Coast offers up the rawest, best flowing verse on the entire album. This first verse is then followed by a heavy buildup in the pre-chorus, which is then followed by what’s probably the nastiest, grittiest and darkest choruses that Pistol Play has ever delivered. Over halfway through the song, Brian Laws delivers one of the highlights of the album with his relaxed, yet provoking rap in the second verse.
As a whole, “Argument” is a no holds-barred, monstrous, epic track that’s one of Pistol Play’s best songs yet.
Overall, this album is a huge landmark for Pistol Play, as he proves his excelled production skills, expertise in various genres and ability to collaborate with other artists.
Pistol Play plans on releasing a second full-length album called “Sundial,” themed around the appreciation of nature.
“The next album will be even better in terms of production,” Johnson declared in an interview.
Currently, Johnson is working on a hip-hop album under the name Found Dead. In an ongoing effort to push his music to be more meaningful, Johnson said that “it’s going to be about being depressed and really messed up stuff.”
Since he’s working on these two projects, it might be up to a year before we see a new album from Henry Johnson, but if they’re at all as good as Conversation” then it will be well worth the wait.
Pistol Play’s next show is on Friday, April 28th and Saturday the 29th at the Music on the Mountain festival. More information on the festival can be found here.
Favorite Track: “Argument Ft. Coast & Y.a.k.w.i.i.86”
Rating: 10/10. Best album of the year so far.