Charlie Eastern – Jalen Santoy

If you’ve never heard of Jalen Santoy before, don’t worry…most people haven’t. The young, LA-based rapper provides listeners with smooth flows, thoughtful lyrics, and hard-hitting beats. While remaining fairly quiet over the past few years, Santoy released Charlie Santoy in 2016 and has left us with a beautifully done album. Colossus isn’t always about covering what’s new and popular, sometimes we just have to write a review of a favorite album. This record from Santoy easily ranks up there in my Top 50 list with its pure playability. Let’s explore it and help you fall in love with it as well.

The Vocals:

Santoy chooses to start off the album in a very…different way. We are met with a sample of Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith discussing Chris Paul future during free agency. Not exactly what you would expect, but he quickly enters into the forefront of the track with his bombastic, nearly angry flows. I have heard many times that Santoy sounds very similar to J. Cole. While I think this comparison to the Dreamville legend is warranted, Santoy has his own feel and vibe on his flows. Some are smooth and easy while others are hard and aggressive. “Foreplay” is what most people will recognize as his main “hit” with over 77 million plays on Spotify. It’s one of those songs that you throw on and immediately vibe out with.

The verses are incredibly smooth and they lead into an elegant melody on the chorus between Santoy and whoever the uncredited female vocalist is. This track alone makes the whole album. Luckily for the listener, he continues with five more tracks, each with hard-hitting lyrics, smooth flows, and playful vocal inflections. The outro track, “Mama Loves Me”, seems to be Santoy’s most personal track on the project, with spoken word pieces and emotional choruses singing about his relationship with his mother.

The Beats:

You can’t talk about the beats on Charlie Eastern without highlighting the saxophone on “Foreplay”. Sampled off “Sunny”, a Stanley Turrentine piece, it’s jazzy and smooth, just like his vocals, and only adds to the depth behind the track. Yet, from a sexual, jazzy beat, we move into a depressing piano intro on “Toast”. The fusion of the piano, hi-hats, and bass drums creates a solid hip-hop sound. “Good Winter” is also a very well developed beat from start to finish. We are met with deep, heavy-hitting bass and uptempo symbals over some very haunting guitar chords. However, the hardest beat off the entire project is “No Peace”. Santoy spits quickly over this track and therefore needs to be met with an equally strong beat. With its beat drops, electric sample buildups, and scrubbed out sound during verses, it’s easily the most hyped, head-nodding beat on the seven-track album.

The Production:

There’s been a common theme with this review…”Foreplay”. Yes, I am about to bring it up for the third time because it is that good. What surprises me here is the release of the clean cut of the track and not the expletive version. A quick search on Genius¬†proves that there seems to be another version out there. This could have been to try and make sure it would get as much attention as possible from playlist curators, radio DJs, and music listeners in general, but interesting none the less.

Other than that, smooth transitions throughout and extremely solid mixing of tracks. I have always been a large critic of “short” albums. Anything with a tracklist that is shorter than eight tracks is usually balancing the thin line between an album, EP, or mixtape. It has to be top quality for me to move past this, and¬†Charlie Eastern most definitely is a top quality listening experience.

The Essentials:

If you don’t have time to listen to the full album, don’t avoid “Foreplay”, “Off The Glass”, and “No Peace”.

The Rating:

In a world of mumble rap, pop rap, and emo rap, this Carolinas-raised, LA-based artist seems to give his listeners hope for the future of rap. However, Charlie Eastern was dropped in 2016 and other than a few singles and some small tours, Santoy has been fairly quiet. I really hope his silence means he is in the studio cooking something up for his fans. Jalen Santoy seems to be one single or album short of getting the recognition he so truly deserves. With all that said, Charlie Eastern deserves a…

Straight up 9 (no questions)

Santoy had a concert at S.O.B.’s in NYC back in September of last year and I was so disappointed to have missed it. This guy’s music is a must-listen for all hip-hop lovers, and I can guarantee you will find at least one song to add to your playlists.

– Heff


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