Every artist seeks out their apex – that point where they “make it” and craft the kind of work that surpasses even their own expectations – even as they may unconsciously fear doing so. For Houston rapper Delo, Hood Politics 2 was long believed to be his apex. Lauded by those within the city and those outside of it, HP2 was riveting, raw, and an honest look at a man on a mission. Even this blog sang its praises for HP2 on more than one occasion. But this where the “fear” part kicks in: HP2 was so spectacular, so great, that its follow-up Hood Politics 3 felt underwhelming. Not because HP3 wasn’t good, but because with HP2 looming over it, the third entry in the Hood Politics series just couldn’t compete.

Which is why Delo’s newest project, GRACE, perhaps stands as the emcee’s most important one to date. Even in the midst of consistent delays of the mixalbum since the start of June, nothing could kill the anticipation for it. Not when bangers like “Breathe” and “Whip” demanded the listeners’ attention and a good speaker system. But GRACE might also serve as Delo’s biggest shot to step out of the shadow of HP2 and establish a new apex for himself, if not for the Houston rap scene as well.

Delo won’t be fighting this battle alone. Features on GRACE include big name heavy-hitters like Big K.R.I.T., Slim Thug, Trae Tha Truth, and local flavors like Mookie Jones. Meanwhile, production on GRACE is handled by K.R.I.T., Sha Money XL, Ty Real, and DJ Mr. Rogers, just to name a few.

Now, at long last, GRACE has arrived. And we’ll all get to be judge and jury of whether Delo’s execution is better than it’s ever been.