Even in the years before its release, the expectation for Conway the Machine’s “debut” album was nothing short of a masterpiece. The godfather of Buffalo underground crew Griselda has a legendary background which he never shies away from; Grinding for years with a gritty, east coast revival sound alongside Benny and Westside Gunn, he was sidelined not only by the loss of cousin Machine Gun Black, but also a shooting which left his face paralyzed. Since his comeback in 2015, Griselda has soared in popularity while Conway has become one of the most consistent and untouchable MCs in the game. Signed to Eminem’s Shady Records, his 2020 album From a King to a God showcased some more varied, accessible production while Con’s pen was sharper than ever. Well it was always God Don’t Make Mistakes which held the most hype as his potential magnum opus, and it doesn’t disappoint at all.
Daringer compared to RZA
I’m compared to n—-s that’ll stab you in your face with a pair of scissors
Courtside watching the Wizards, Cartiers expensive
Air the extended, have you laying somewhere in intensive
Conway’s lyricism has always been a combination of deep, introspective storytelling and menacing street talk. On GDMM, he dives deeper than ever into his personal struggles and the adversity which made him the legend he is today. It kicks off with “Lock Load”, backed by a dark, grimy boombap beat which is simultaneously a real banger. Conway opens with command of the mic and a simple, yet epic hook. Beanie Sigel makes a phenomenal appearance; his voice might be pretty fried, but his bars are great and he contributes to the atmosphere so well. “Tear Gas” is next, a lushly produced cut that Lil Wayne floats over. It should be noted at this point that the album is pretty light on hooks. Some songs have no hook, or only simple refrains. This opening run might not show it, but that fits the album’s themes given its depth. There’s also the Alchemist produced single “Piano Love”, laced with dark, immaculate keys and some top tier shit talk from Conway (“Press box at all the games, sitting next to the Pegulas /Came up with them brick sellers and them hundred pound movers”).
“Drumwork” features Jae Skeese and 7xvethegenius, who are proteges of Conway signed to his DW imprint. They brought their A game, knowing how important this album and moment are. Its becoming clearer that the production on GDMM is more grounded than recent projects like FKTG, Look What I Became, or La Maquina might have indicated; It is generally very clean, but oriented to the dark or rich sounds of Daringer, Alchemist, and Cosmo. Its on the Hit-Boy produced “Wild Chapters” however, where Conway begins to dive deeper and never come back for the project’s duration. Reflecting generally on the rough come up, how it affected his loved ones, and even the loss of his son, he leads into an appearance from the King of the South and a cathartic hook by Novel. A couple tracks later is “Stressed”, where Conway goes even further into grave detail on the losses and struggles he has endured: His cousin’s suicide, the apparent stillbirth of his own child, and the abyss he fell into as a result. Few rappers are able to make themselves so vulnerable and evoke so much emotion through their lyrics. Conway never wastes a breath on this album, and it makes for a harrowing recount of everything that shapes him as a man.
Conway The Machine – John Woo Flick (with Benny The Butcher & Westside Gunn)
Other standouts from the second half include a smooth 16 from neosoul goddess Jill Scott, a really experimental flow on “Baba’s”, and the epic Justice League beat on “So Much More”. All of this builds up to the closing title track, which is among the most chilling hiphop records ever made. A dreamy, emotive Alchemist beat gives Conway the platform to wrap up this chapter of his life and career. On the surface, its a simple “what if” song, but given Con’s unique background and ability to evoke emotions in the listener, it becomes something special. Apparently called “The Cow 2” at first, he recounts the night he was shot and the hustle needed to make it back in rap. Most importantly, it closes with a recording of his mother at his hospital bed; Fighting tears, she begs her son to get back up, in the name of God, and complete his mission.
Sometimes I wonder, if this Bells Palsy didn’t paralyze my grill in
Would there still be murals of my face painted on side of buildings? (I wonder)
I mean, would I still be rhyming brilliant? They say I provide the feeling
But would my story still inspire millions?
At this point, Conway has cemented himself as a legend and possibly the greatest to come out of this modern East Coast scene. His influence, discography, and pen game are nigh unrivaled, and God Don’t Make Mistakes is – as reactionary as it may seem – the quality of an instant classic. This is simply the album he was born to make.