Since Chuckie Campbell’s chilling and politically-charged first single “The Streets” in 2013 won him support from a host of indie or “conscious” hip hop artists such as Ded Prez and Talib Kweli, and his debut album More Die of Heartbreak earned him the support of just about everyone else. The emotional and evocative debut earned Campbell a huge amount of awards and opening spots with prominent rappers, and now he is generally known as one of the greatest storytellers in the rap game, full stop.
Campbell and his label Deep Thinka Records have been teasing his sophomore full-length for quite a while now, with four singles and two videos released before the highly anticipated Taking Back Tomorrow dropped just a few weeks ago. Most recently the haunting blues-inspired “Pretty Girls” feat. Heidi Feek video was released last week with a film noir-style video done in reverse. While almost directly in line with the subject of the track, the video for “Pretty Girls” captures the despair of being stuck in societal roles in a society that doesn’t play by the rules. It’s a striking example of Chuckie’s work and why he’s so highly regarded in the rap community.
The rest of Taking Back Tomorrow is equally as emotional, as Campbell’s “super lyrical” storytelling style is out in full force, and no subject is taboo. Campbell is also known for shedding light not only on social injustice but on the feelings and people behind these conditions, how we got here as a society and where we can possibly go. He stuffs a huge amount of subject matter into his lyrics, raising issues and leaving open questions with lightning speed. Tracks like “Synesthesia” feat. Talib Kweli and “Language of the Unheard” are definite lyrical hard-hitters and think pieces, while the afore-mentioned “Pretty Girls” and “Meant for More” are personal, emotional and stark in their storytelling.
Campbell is also on the EDM radar quite often as the musical style of much of his work defies the usually quite sparse, analog hip hip beats that are typical of indie artists, leaning in favor of heavy synths and echo effects. Even the beats are more trap or dubstep-influenced than hip hop or jazz, although jazz and blues are represented in the shining examples of “Pretty Girls” and “Smoke.” This marriage of heavily articulated lyrics with similarly heavy bass music-style beats makes Campbell unique once again to both genres.
Put bluntly, Taking Back Tomorrow is another triumph for Campbell, as his second effort more than lives up to the hype of his first album and all the critical acclaim. It’s likely he’ll be collecting more awards for this album, but it’s also quite clear from his lyrics and personal activism that Campbell is not in it for the accolades. He really is trying to “take back tomorrow” from the social injustice of today.
Taking Back Tomorrow by Chuckie Campbell is out now on Deep Thinka Records and can be streamed on Soundcloud or Spotify. It can be purchased on multiple platforms by visiting the Chuckie Campbell website.