“The Gambit” is a hip-hop album by artist ‘Erinem’. Throughout the eight tracks, Erinem introduces us to her world of rap through a routine of calculated deliveries, precise rhythms, and gritty subjects. Her persona of a lethal battle rapper takes center stage as she delivers jabs with her gloves off. I felt her raw tone, down-to-earth mindset, and hunger for success to be the core driving factor in The Gambit. Listening to her rap was akin to seeing a boxer throwing punches in a one-sided boxing match.
The Gambit is very much a conceptual album with fully fleshed-out verses. Erinem makes a point to give everything she has through her solid performance and tight wordplay. I found myself pleasantly surprised how Erinem didn’t waste a single word or used throwaway one-liners. A lot of lyrics these days carry clever one-lines or double entendre’s that lead to dead-ends, however, Erinem commits to her train of thought and proceeds to tie strings of ideas together. This enables her to have multiple layers in her verses. Deconstructing this album track by the track was a huge task for me as there was a lot Erinem had to say. Safe to say, I was pleased with the experience and found myself revisiting some key tracks.
Beginning with Critical Condition, we are introduced to an ambitious Erinem looking over the rap game which is in a pitiable condition. Her personification of Hip-hop as an ailing patient shows how willing she is to restore it to its former glory through her influence, dedication, and hard work. This was a fresh new perspective that kicked off the album with a dark and gritty vibe. The track itself sounds concrete with its production. Erinem elaborates how she has worked on her craft as an artist and only cares about finessing her delivery rather than going for the ‘rappity rap’ style. This is her commentary of how the rap game has suffered because of rappers who strive to rhyme fast at the expense of making sense.
Rabbit Punch plays next. Erinem raps over a sinister orchestra of synths. Her rhymes are consistent thanks to her non-filler wordplay and salvaging every syllable to rhyme with the next. I appreciate how economic she is with words throughout the song. She plays around with her flow and rides the beat. I came to understand that it was indeed her turf as she got comfortable with the beat and conveyed vivid imagery.
Checkmate starts with a modern trap sound where Erinem follows her train of thoughts. She raps about testing her limits and boundaries. She gives us a peek at her own identity as she confronts herself. Furthermore, she lays her knives out as she talks about living rent-free in the heads of her opposition. She might get a bloodied nose; but, she will make sure she dominates her opponents and peers. I also like how she establishes that she’s her own biggest opponent as she doesn’t think others are worthy of that status. It’s always her against herself. She fleshes this out later on in her song Shadow Boxer.
Underdog carries a trance-inducing hook with a hard-punching beat. She talks about coming up as an underdog. Her cadence and flow strongly reminded me of Eminem who is one of her biggest influences. I couldn’t help but draw parallels between Erinem’s and Eminem’s styles. Both are rappers who rose despite being underdogs. She succeeds in showing off her rough and tough side with Underdog.
Shadow Boxer was a solid conceptual track that was complemented with a hard banging beat. Erinem puts herself forward as a shadow boxer who’s sparring and flexing her skills in the absence of a worthy opponent. I thought of it more as a diss track against anybody who even contemplates facing Erinem. This was a very dense track lyrically and I had to replay it quite a few times to get the gist. The ‘dating Carbon’ bar caught me off guard with its clever build-up. As I said before, Erinem’s arsenal is loaded with witty bars and multi-threaded concepts.
Battle Cry was the song where Erinem lays special emphasis on self-improvement. Here she plays around with her flow and showcases her vocal range. Previously, she had only had been rapping throughout The Gambit so hearing her sing a bit was refreshing. Her subject matter revolves around how she doesn’t care about the opinions of others and does her own thing. Relying on her self has allowed her to be a rapper who can go all out.
Friendly fire is a moment in the album where Erinem cools down a bit. It’s an introspective track that is coupled with a slow laidback beat. Erinem raps about being her own worst critic and the aspect of dealing with her thoughts. Mental health takes center stage in this song. I was pleased to see Erinem being in touch with her inner self. She isn’t a perfect human being and has demons to fight just like everyone else.
The Gambit serves as the closing track for the album. Erinem starts the track with melodic singing and sends a strong parting message that she’s just getting started. This album was simply her moving the chess pieces in her favor and establishing a fortified and strategic position. Placing herself in this position has helped her set herself up for success.
Overall, the eight tracks form a short but mesmerizing listening experience. Erinem can preserve a dark tone throughout the project. While the tracks are bangers one after another, she also adds introspective and slow tracks in the latter half to flesh out her persona more. This helps add dimensionality to Erinem and make her more relatable. While she’s a hard-hitter in her rhymes, she’s able to showcase her emotions just as succinctly. I enjoyed listening to The Gambit by Erinem. If you are looking for something brief and bombastic, go give this album a listen!