Iayze (Jace!) – ‘Reverence’

By: Charlie Boone

Iayze (or Jace!) is a rapper from Fort Worth, Texas that first gained prominence on Soundcloud in the burgeoning underground plugg scene. His sound uniquely blends orchestral samples and ambient soundscapes with hard-hitting 808s and glitchy percussion, creating a trance-like energy that feels more purposeful and well-realized than many of his contemporaries.

On his debut full length album, ‘Reverence’, released on March 7, 2023, it really feels like Iayze is trying to prove himself as a versatile artist. Expanding his sound into spacey R&B on songs like “Bed Side” and “Call on Me”, showing off his ability to sing and penchant for deep, entrancing atmospheres. He melds the atmospheric soundscapes with more aggressive rapping perfectly on the song “Laylow”, produced by another popular rapper from the same scene, DevStacks.

‘Reverence’ is a total of 29 tracks, and an hour long, which is usually the sign of a bloated project, but even though there are points that I wasn’t as engaged, Iayze shows a level of quality control while bouncing around styles that makes even moments that don’t personally appeal to the listener feel fresh and interesting nonetheless. While this makes it easier for different types of listeners to find something they enjoy, this does unfortunately affect both the replayability and cohesion of the project.

Iayze’s previous mixtapes have touched on lyrical themes of mental health, isolation, and heartbreak before, and for the most part, ‘Reverence’ sits in that familiar territory, with most songs feeling lyrically like small vignettes of an idea, juxtaposed with how fully realized and deep the production feels.

‘Reverence’ features a wide variety of producers that bring unique touches to Iayze’s sound, his long-time producer Cullen appears on a variety of tracks that do a great example of showcasing what was great about his previous projects, at a higher level of production value and performances. Songs like “Dee in a Cutlass” and “The Hills” both produced by Biinx, are great examples of what is trendy and happening right now in the underground SoundCloud scene.

In closing, while ‘Reverence’ isn’t as consistent (thematically or stylistically) as his previous work, it is by far Iayze’s most ambitious project, and to be able to make a 29 track album that doesn’t feel boring and stale by the end is truly a feat; especially as an underground artist without a large amount of industry backing.

If you’re looking for an exciting and diverse rap project, and you favor deep, atmospheric production, I highly recommend ‘Reverence’.

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