Saint Ripley raps through a dark night of the soul, shaded with blues, metal, and industrial, to a redemptive sunrise on his new album GOD COMPLEX. The rapper drew on his own experiences with mental illness, substance abuse, and religious doubt for his sophomore album, and it’s clear he’s using those memories as fuel to a brighter future. “The story I’m trying to tell is one of redemption - that there is hope, ” he says. “You can make a change and there is room for a comeback even from the darkest depths.”
The first half of the album runs on wired-up excess like a Safdie Bros. movie set in the house shows and dive bars of Chicago’s northwest side. On “Run Pts. I & II,” Ripley trades debaucherous verses with TWENTY3 CRISS over a bluesy shuffle beat produced by Nate Fox (Chance the Rapper, J. Cole), even breaking into a bluesy croon against auto-tuned backing vocals. Ripley’s narrator sounds high on his own confidence and beyond over the 808 boom of “Switch Lanes,” featuring a nimble guest verse from Ajani Jones.
GOD COMPLEX takes an introspective turn midway through, as the narrator comes down and takes stock of his drug use and emotional turmoil on lead single “On God / On Me,” available on 7” vinyl at select indie record stores. Ripley raps “Bloody nose, sore feet, some eighty-hour weeks / Working two jobs with dope dealers preying at each / Now you tell me how you’d deal. they’ve got the powdered solution / I got to using to fight sleep and make them ends meet” over a warm guitar line reminiscent of Kendrick Lamar’s “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst.”
On “Reflections,” Ripley and Qari rap about the search for inner peace in higher powers and communities. “Once I got my life back together I ironically had to surrender and accept faith in something – myself,” he says of the track. “Along with that came accountability and recognizing my faults and mistakes.”
By the album’s conclusion, Ripley is starting a new day freestyling towards a more actualized self GOD COMPLEX is a quick, dirty, compelling album from an emerging Chicago talent. Let us pray.
RIYL/FFO: JPEGMAFIA, Open Mike Eagle, Supa Bwe, Denzel Curry