Carter Ferryman: Mach-Hommy exudes pride on Pray For Haiti — the cryptic MC sinks his teeth into Griselda-laden production, leaving no spoken word uncompromised on — perhaps — his most focused and detectable work to date.
Marty Gross: Mach-Hommy’s Pray for Haiti is intricately packed with deep heritage and divinity while still utilizing his notorious tough-nosed bars and beautifully dreary instrumentals.
Carter: There are Westside Gunn fingerprints all over this album. Fitting, considering his role as executive producer on Pray For Haiti. “Pen Rale” and “Kriminel” both employ the deconstructed, looping sample — a staple for Griselda records. The former centers around an infectious, pounding piano chord, while the latter mashes together double bass strings and soulful humming. Pray For Haiti reaches its instrumental high with a back-to-back: “The Stellar Ray Theory” and “Marie.” The pair of tracks is strung together by a soundbite from Robert De Niro’s infamous Taxi Driver monologue; there’s no way it should work as seamlessly as it does.
Marty: With Pray for Haiti, Hommy does what he does best by gathering some of the nastiest, most ominous and horn/drum driven instrumentals in the game, leaving many listeners in blissful angst for Hommy’s rich flow. Some instrumentals like “Magnum Band” contain dancing piano chords that spiral like a descending staircase, while others like “Makrel Jaxon” serenade you with slight harmonies of Japanese. These pin-point accuracies in the beats are complex but still leave room for Hommy to explain his perceptive empirical thoughts. These calculated instrumentals woven with samples from Taxi Driver and Emiko Nakayama leave us with a diverse range of multicultural beauty.
Carter: The album opens in a big way — “The 26th Letter” is just shy of four minutes, yet it possesses enough lyrical content to fill an entire EP. The other end of the spectrum is “Au Revoir.” Much of the song is Mach-Hommy repeating the title between vocals by Melanie Charles, but Mach still delivers — cutting this highlight down the middle with a slow, deeply resonating verse. “Kriminel” may very well be this year's most uniquely written rap record to date — Mach-Hommy jumps around between high-energy delivery, shouted ad-libs and, most notably, Haitian/French lyrics; a consistent approach throughout the project.
Marty: This mixed salad of cultures is also tossed with metaphorical dressing almost as good as Caesar or Thousand Island: Mach-Hommy’s superb wordplay and songwriting. Hommy chooses to give us phrases of his native tongue, Creole-Haitian, to display his fascination with Haitian culture and give homage to his beautiful roots that have given him the greatest gift of all: life. On top of his ancestral love, each sixteen-bar verse is drenched with flaughts about luxurious apparel and profound outlooks on society. After these complex lyrics, Hommy compliments the verse with a snappy but precise chorus that bundles the song into a dense body of work.
Carter: Westside Gunn’s work as head of production on Pray For Haiti is his biggest triumph here. His features, on the other hand, feel a little forced, like he was somehow obligated to hop on a large chunk of the album. Don’t get me wrong, the beats fit his style like no other, but Pray For Haiti is so definitely “Mach-Hommy.” In turn, the Buffalo rappers’ guest spots take away from momentum at times. They could’ve realistically done one feature — “Folie A Deux” — and nothing else in the grand scheme of things. The feature gold medal goes to the aforementioned vocals from Melanie Charles, who shines brightly alongside Mach on Pray For Haiti’s grandest track.
Marty: Hommy adds more expertise to the project by assembling a solid group of rappers to collaborate with. Griselda icon Westside Gunn can be seen on three of the tracks, and Tha God Fahim gives us a superb closing verse in “Magnum Band” that explodes the track through the finish line. These wonderful features, on top of an eerie Keisha Plum monologue, give us Hommy’s direct vision and serve as fine additions to the album.
Carter: Above all else, Pray For Haiti is unwavering in its commitment to Mach-Hommy’s heritage. It’s in the title, all over the song names, written into songs and present on many of the songs’ themes. He tells vivid stories and reminisces on days’ past while keeping the cultural thematic ever-present.
Marty: And if you somehow don’t like the music (I would like to have a word with you...), you can at least appreciate the fact that twenty percent of the album’s proceeds are going to Haitian Covid relief charities. Hommy knows how to intermix an appropriate balance of self-love and pain that propels a fascinating and much-needed message about humanity and culture. This formula is the roots of rap music, and Hommy rips these roots from the ground and concocts his own musical soup of pure acuity.