Envy Hunter - Patiently Waiting_reviewEnvy Hunter – Patiently Waiting
The Good Company; 2014
Day & A Dream Rating: 3.5 out of 5
DOWNLOAD: Audiomack

“I’m all about the hustle/ shit talkin’ ain’t enough/ I do it all for the city…”

These words, proclaimed as though they’re gospel on the song “Jive,” sum up Envy Hunter’s mission on his debut album, Patiently Waiting. Over the course of 13 tracks, Envy dares to talk loyalty, “bitch niggas” disingenuous artists, and the case to add his name to the few considered “next” on the local scene.

Its only feature appearance coming from fellow Houston artist Express on “Texas” – a song that would make Pimp C grin down from the trillest cloud in the heavens – Patiently Waiting puts Envy Hunter on full display for listeners to acquaint themselves with his delivery and execution, and to decide for themselves whether Envy is worth it. Hunter’s flow is mostly conversational throughout the album. It’s more like he talks to us, rather than raps at us – well, actually, he DOES rap at us, but it feels more like Hunter is offering a chair, urging us to take a seat so we can be engaged with as opposed to performed for.

On “Rebel/Satisfaction,” Hunter mimics Kendrick Lamar’s flow and adds a slight sing-songy touch to his voice. And it’s tough not to make a further K. Dot comparison in the way “Rebel/Satisfaction” has its fun interrupted in much the same way Lamar’s “Swimming Pools (Drank)” does, the sly, laid-back nature of “Rebel” (right down to Hunter insisting that he “flirts with a purpose” when his woman isn’t around) cut short in a skit where Hunterr and his friends are stopped by a cop, and prompting Hunter to bark out his frustration with the police on “Satisfaction.” And “I’m Out Here,” the album’s definitive anthem, simmers silently at first before bubbling over into a speaker-murdering monster.

A majority of Patiently Waiting’s sounds come courtesy of General Beats, who clearly spent the weeks working on the album trapped in a booth listening to Big K.R.I.T. songs or Tim McGraw and Willie Nelson’s greatest hits. It’s country rap tunes through and through. For example, guitar strums and tinkling piano keys worthy of a lone walk down a dirt road make up “Sweet Life.” Although, the General Beats dabbles a little bit in 70s funk on the LP’s lead single “Talkin’ Out My A$$”; and he saves the pure hip-hop for the very last, giving a riding beat and tapping snare full reign for three minutes on “Amnesia.”

But it’s in the tracks where Hunter abandons bragging and speaks plainly, that Patiently Waiting finds its strength. “That’s Real” – a track Envy admits, almost proudly, won’t make it onto the radio – is a vent on wax, as he pledges allegiance to Houston and yet voices disgust with the monotony of his peers: “… I tell myself not to change the station/ But all these niggas identical – shit is imitation.” The outro “bonus” track, “His Regrets,” buoyed by a solid soulful sample and a stripped down beat courtesy of Serious Beats, is easily one of the standout cuts on Patiently Waiting, and it’s unfortunate that it’s attached to “Amnesia.” “Amnesia” becomes nothing more than an appetizer, an interlude that pales in comparison to the heavy subject matter of “His Regrets.” Often, we hear rappers embrace the spoils of the lifestyle, but Hunter’s is a tale about a rapper admitting the woman he had and didn’t do right by, wasn’t worth losing. “I lied to you, told you I was grinding in the studio… in reality, I was fucking with a groupie hoe.” It’s “From Time” on fifteen, without a soothing voice like Jhené Aiko’s to balance things out and Aubrey’s whining replaced with Envy’s emotional cocktail of regret, frustration, and feeling helpless.

“But I’ve come too far, to get it taken away…” Envy Hunter insists on “Still I Rise,” a song that Maya Angelou might have written if she were a rapper who was determined to be a better person but sometimes found herself trapped by temptation and her environment. Hunter understands that the stakes are high, that even if you work extremely hard, your success in the rap game – hell, success in life itself – isn’t guaranteed. But perhaps it’s exactly because he knows what he has to lose, that Envy’s determination will help him break through.

No, Patiently Waiting won’t soundtrack your liquor-driven nights or trips to the strip club. It will, however, be your alternative, your go-to guy when the usual no longer does it for you and when you need motivation for the daily grind or reassurance of your vision. That’s what Envy Hunter’s banking on – for you to realize your ears needed something different. And that will make the “wait” all worth it.