Leaving behind the trap anthems found on his 2012 debut release, Stritcly 4 My P.A.P.I.Z., Bodega Bamz takes a new direction on his latest release Sidewalk Exec under the venerated Duck Down Music label.

Bamz serves up an LP  that sonically and lyrically are reminiscent of the boom-bap era of New York hip-hop and that fits right alongside the refreshing Beastcoast movement coming out of New York. The 30-year-old rapper finds himself partnering up with fellow Harlem native and producer, V Don (A$AP Rocky, Vado, Game), who handles all of the production on the LP. Incorporating the gritty, New York underground sound, V Don does a good job mixing high-pitched flutes with an arrangement of woodwind instruments. Keeping his guest features to a minimum on the 40-minute-plus LP, Bamz recruits the help of some familiar faces with A$ton Matthews, Flatbush Zombies, Joell Ortiz and the late A$AP Yams all appearing on the project.

From the intro of Sidewalk Exec, Bamz comes out swinging. His powerful message on “Down These Mean Streets" mixed with his confidence and good old fashioned shit talking set the tone for the rest of the album. Bodega follows up the intro with the eerie Flatbush Zombies-assisted track, "Bring Em Out." The piercing set of piano keys over the menacing drum patterns makes a perfect match for Bodega and company. Lyrically, Bamz shines bright next to the Brooklyn trio, while the Zombies show off their wide range of cadences and flow patterns. Undeniably, the chemistry between Bodega and the Zombies keeps getting better, and "Bring Em Out" is just another example of the sound brewing in the New York rap scene.

Always one to rep for his culture, the self-appointed "Don Francisco" of hip-hop makes it a priority to incorporate his Puerto Rican and Dominican roots throughout the album by using Spanish language monologues. V Don sprinkles in traditional Latin sounds on a few of the records while keeping it street and for the hood. Tracks like “Woopty Woop Blahzay Blah" and "El Rey" are perfect examples of Bamz keeping in touch with his Spanish heritage and highlight his ability to switch flows between languages. With Sidewalk Exec, Bamz also makes it a priority to showcase his lyrical ability by painting vivid drug-dealing stories from the perspective of the “connect,” or the plug. On “Raw Deal,” Papi impresses listeners with his exceptional story-telling skills of a drug deal gone bad, but with a twist. Bodega also pens a heartfelt track on the last record of the album, “I’m Ready.” The track, which features a conversation between A$AP Yams and Bodega Bamz, is without a doubt one of the most personal records on the album and in Bodega’s career.

Overall, Bamz remains as one of the most interesting artists emerging from New York, and with this latest project, the Spanish Harlem rapper proves he's more than just a trap anthem rapper as he showcases his lyrical ability and story-telling skills, while Bamz' versatility allows him to stand on his own. —Roger Krastz