Conway, “Go Fish Volume 1”

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It could be argued that the gangster rapper has met the fate of the NBA shooting guard position. Both hip hop and the NBA are flooded with stars who’ve taken elements of those respective skillsets, but very few of them are gangster rappers or shooting guards by traditional definition.

In hip hop particularly, the shift in sonics—and tastes of fans—has seemingly left that MC behind. Only those willing to modernize the sound, such as Freddie Gibbs or Schoolboy Q, have been able to achieve modicums of success with millenial hip-hop heads. Where is the space for the arbitrarily agitated, “I’m a better rapper than you, and it’s in your best interest to agree” gangster rapper in 2016?

For gritty Buffalo, NY rapper Conway, that space could be found with the help of a Mac Miller co-sign. Conway’s “Go Fish Volume 1” is the first release of the Pittsburgh rapper’s Go Fish series, which will see Miller (under his Larry Fisherman producer alias) lacing beats for an indeterminate amount of MCs.

“Volume 1” showcases the raspy-voiced Conway talking grimy over a dreamy, ambient vocal sample. The contrast of the beat with Conway’s war stories makes for a winning combination, as Conway notes, “I got hit in the top when I got shot up, but I knew niggas that got hit in the leg and never got up.”

Conway’s content doesn’t stray too far from money/women/violence, but his voice and clever penmanship help to pull the listener in. Conway’s showcase of skills on “Go Fish Volume 1” highlight the best qualities of a fading art–like the occasional 30-point night from Kobe.