Midnight & Lion is a thirteen-track album by hip-hop artist Charles Laney. Laney showcases his unique and unparalleled production quality throughout the thirteen tracks using electronic, experimental, and multi-layered instrumentals. His introspective and clever wordplay is dispersed in his verses throughout the album. Every song feels fresh, unique, and unpredictable. This unpredictability adds to the diverse flavors of influences and experiences Laney has to offer in his album.
Oma is the first tone-setter in this album, bringing in a slight EDM influence coupled with melodic and trance-inducing instrumentation. The track and Laney’s verse had a hint of N.E.R.D-type vibes. The song essentially serves as a promise of ‘Bringing the heat’ by the one-man army, Charles Laney. Potent Love Potion and Cool Girl were tracks that relied heavily on experimental and mechanical inflections. From Potent Love Potion, I enjoyed Laney’s focus on wordplay and precise delivery. Cool Girl was a sensual song enshrouded with unpredictable instruments and sounds. That Work followed suit with its retro gamey sound that was woven seamlessly with the beat. I enjoyed it when Laney played around with the tempo adding to the experimental nature of the song. Long Gone was where Laney infused an electronic sound with his voice. This infusion reminded me of JPEGMAFIA along with its multi-layered production.
Dressed to Kill felt something straight out of a CLIPPING album. Overall, the song delivered a much darker atmosphere with an equally dark and graphic verse. I’ve Got Nothing Left had a rewarding buildup focused on Laney’s inner voices and thought processes. This was a deeply reflective song that showcased his inner turmoil juxtaposed with his self-aggrandizing views about himself. I loved how the instrumentation capitalized on this conflict with its chaotic nature. Rock and Roll introduced somewhat organic and acapella-esque sounds that threw something new in the mix. Designer Beauty and Fire with Fire are the next two songs on the album. Fire with Fire caught my attention due to its tangy acidic sound, short bursts of clever wordplay, and Laney’s undeniably strong vocal performance. Rock and Roll 2 was an unbelievably dark track with an intense, gritty atmosphere that kept on leading to a buildup. I enjoyed how Laney was able to craft entire atmospheres with his production and verses. That’s something only a few artists can do effectively. Midnight in the Morning felt like a contrast to the dark Rock and Roll 2. It had a deeply reflective verse from Laney. “Took my pain and made it beautiful” felt like the right bar to describe this whole album for me. With this verse, this song takes the cake. Lord of the Crowns felt like a fitting closing track with a heartfelt production and Laney’s verse taking center stage.
Overall, I was impressed with this album and felt as If Laney had made his unique sound. The album is unapologetically experimental that makes it a bold and memorable listening experience. I highly recommend listening to Midnight & Lion.