Sony Music Entertainment
Sony Music Entertainment

Before Kanye West flew CyHi The Prynce out to Hawaii to aid in writing his coveted album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, CyHi was just an amazingly gifted Atlanta-born lyricist finding it hard to bubble out of his city's exploding trap scene. To this day, CyHi dubs himself as one the best writers in the game, which isn’t a farfetched claim. That’s why when he got the opportunity to showcase his competence to everyone attentively tuned into the G.O.O.D Friday series and beyond, he made sure to not drop the ball. Since those exhilarating days of popular posse cuts back in 2010, the good times slowed for CyHi. Appearing to be shelved by Kanye, his official “debut” had yet to be delivered and after seven years on everyone’s radar CyHi was still awaiting his grand unveil.

That’s why his official debut album, No Dope on Sundays, feels so bittersweet. On one hand, the project itself is superior than anticipated from someone who was slapped with daunting expectations. On the other, it’s a shame it took this long for him to finally get the recognition he deserves. CyHi brings a level of lyrical proficiency to this album that is a rarity in today’s “vibes only” climate—not to mention the grand songwriting that takes place on all 15 tracks. From start to finish, the album is jam-packed with literary acrobatics and lush storytelling that will make any listener respect, rewind and rejoice in the gospel CyHi brings to his bars.

The title track “No Dope on Sundays” with Pusha T hammers home the album’s overarching concept of street vs. religion. When CyHi chants, “No dope on Sundays/You know the trap back boomin' Monday/But no dope on Sundays/When you out here dirty, this the day you do the laundry” on the chorus, he’s alluding to the very real parallels that exist between street life and religious beliefs. CyHi compares and contrasts the streets and spirituality throughout the album, ultimately concluding that his criminal and non-criminal life experiences have allowed him to walk in both of those arenas.

On the album’s intro “Amen,” CyHi playfully yet potentially details being torn between harmless athletics and the street life: “Varsity in two sports, my reputation preceded me/But the trunk Pac-10 so I never played collegiately/Big 12-gauge to WAC a nigga in the SEC/And that’s a second, my mind’s a MAC-11.”

Usually with a wordsmith as lyrically long-winded as CyHi, full albums can get bogged down with too many verses or unnecessary filler bars for the sake of being lyrical but this LP is rather condensed. He structures the album with peaks and valleys of uptempo jams and longer contemplative cuts that balance nicely for a full front-to-back listen. After the thoughtful opening songs, he turns the 808 drums all the way up and invites some fellow trappers through for some pulsating posse cuts. “Trick Me” with 2 Chainz and “Movin’ Around” are just as catchy as any bubbling SoundCloud trap anthem out right now without an inch of wit sacrificed. The latter even contains one of the album’s shrewdest bars: “Now I'm actin nimble cause she actin' simple/Back to running circles round the A like an @ symbol.”

The dust settles after the Estelle supported “Murda” and CyHi gets the chance to address the social injustices facing young Black Americans. Jagged Edge tags in to assist in serenading to the “beautiful souls in the struggle and all fallen soldiers.” The southern MC shifts his focus a little bit on “God Bless Your Heart,” on which he details his own experiences as a Black man trying to make it, nevertheless, a solicitous track aimed to inspire the youth.

The only issue that presents itself in the grand scheme of No Dope on Sundays is whether or not it will receive the majority consideration it deserves. The reality is that without a massive single to propel it beyond the likes of streaming playlists, the project likely won’t get heard by the masses the way it should. “Dat Side” with Kanye West is the biggest song on the album but didn’t exactly catch fire the way any of their G.O.O.D Friday tracks did, rendering the album’s overall momentum rather stagnant. Thankfully, the album is filled with top-notch production from S1, Edsclusive, Novel, Shawty Redd and Mark Byrd just to name a few, which makes it easier for even non-lyrically inclined ears to press play.

No matter which way you slice it, CyHi The Prynce excels in his delivery on his official debut, making No Dope on Sundays a serious contender for one of the best albums of the year. He proves that jaw-dropping lyrical ability and vivid storytelling can be woven through catchy production to make the ultimate rap apex. With his goals of completely taking over the game in 2018, the album’s cohesive feel and stellar lyrical quality gets him closer to his final destination.

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