Even though Buffalo, New York’s Griselda collective has had California producer the Alchemist on speed-dial since the mid-2010s, they’ve never stopped rapping like they’re up-and-comers trying to get his attention. Lately, Conway the Machine has been particularly voracious: He’s the only rapper of the bunch to have a full-length collaborative project with the producer, 2020’s short and serrated LULU, under his belt. The gruff slur of Conway’s grit and glamour has become a foil for Alchemist in the same way Earl Sweatshirt’s stoned truisms and Boldy James’s deadpan corner boy tales have; the words open space for Alc’s ever-changing canvases.
“Piano Love,” the lead single from Conway’s much-delayed Shady Records debut God Don’t Make Mistakes, revels in the ominous haze that’s birthed some of his best songs. Conway’s great talent lies in his ability to make sneaker boxes filled with drug money and meetings with plugs sound as luxurious as Chanel coats and Slick Rick-level jewelry. He does what he does best over the bed of spindly piano keys and dampened drums on “Piano Love,” erasing the line between dapper and dealer. Producer and rapper find symbiosis: Alchemist’s groove creaks around Conway’s phrasing, and Conway’s flow accentuates the deep pockets of the beat. Together, they develop a world that’s both bleak and beautiful.