They say that “out of the darkness comes light,” and for Maryland-born whiz kid Substantial, this adage rings true. After being dragged though the bouts of homelessness and personal tragedies that fired his internationally acclaimed debut release, …To This Union a Sun Was Born, Substantial took in a deep breath and exhaled. The result is an organic labor of love that's remarkable in its focused alignment and enlightened command of self. Here's a man who may not have all the answers, but certainly knows who he is. Perhaps this tranquil ascension has something to do with Substantial's commitment to martial arts, a practice whose calculated grace emanates from each of the 17 tracks. Or maybe the artist, born Stan Robinson, has approached new heights through a conscious effort to shake loose and allow life to take its proper shape.
Whatever the motivation, Sacrifice is a raw exultation; an animated celebration of love in some of its truest forms: the love of your craft, a significant other and of slicing away opponents one bar at a time. CunninLynguists'Deacon the Villain crashes through the Kid 'N Play sampled “Resurrection of the House Party,” and aside from a deft watch-your-back saga scorched by QN5 labelmates Tonedeff and Pack FM (“Sign Language”), this album is all about Substantial. On “That Damn Good,” he charges through declarations of sovereignty while acknowledging his humility in the same breath, demonstrating a refreshing maturity within natural talent. His honeyed baritone jingles along with the catchy Rodgers and Hammerstein jammie “My Favorite Things,” replacing “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens” with a wax poetic on hip-hop's cultural contributions. Lamaze breaths and Spanish guitars push through “Labor Pains,” a lucid poem dedicated to cash-starved dreamers struggling through aimless 9 to 5's until their ambitions cash in. From intro to end, Sacrifice is a robust package soaked in passion, pain and promise. Substantial may not be on your radar just yet, but it won't take long for you to see the light.