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MSQ Review: Eliturite - "After Wake"

Updated: Jun 12, 2023

Eliturite (pronounced “illiterate”) has been one of Richmond’s brightest lights on the independent music scene for years. His light so far though, has largely been shed on others through the HearRVA platform that he and his wife, Rian co-founded. HearRVA much like The MSQ Shop, seeks to bring awareness to the abundance of artistic talent in the area and beyond through blog/social media coverage, live events and concerts, original media, curated playlists and so much more. The platform has built an amazing reputation due to the passion, respect and sincerity with which they consume and present the city’s music— but with the album, After Wake it's time for the light to be shed on Eliturite himself.

After a graceful rollout, including a “Shockoe Session” featuring live-instrumentation performances of After Wake material and following the floating out of the cool-ass album art from his son, Jai, as well as dropping three tracks from the album as singles--- the anticipation for After Wake finally paid off in late April. The intro track “IG Up” features the dynamic Richmond emcee, Sneeze as he helps Eliturite navigate through the aforementioned dichotomy of being the guy who typically sets the stage for the stars in our city and also being someone worthy of the shine himself. “…IG up, spreading people’s music that ain’t mine. I need a reason to focus on my own grind cuz I see a path leading out of these strange times,” Eliturite has stepped up to the mic and we don’t look back from there.

The first track and a lion’s share of the production (as well as executive production) is handled by longtime friend and collaborator, Ant The Symbol, who is definitely having a moment himself with his newest album, I Know Who I Am. Ant laces the second track, “Then Who Knows” with a robust, sparkly yet dust-covered sample that sets up perfectly for Eliturite and Fluffy The Alchemist to question the fragility of day-to-day life.

Early on in After Wake, it becomes clear that the sonic tone is going to be the ambient boom-bap soul that fans of Ant and Eli have come to expect —but aside from consistency, I find it to be a solid artistic choice to accentuate the very reflective lyrical content. There are no wild 808s or crazy vocal samples to compete with Eliturite’s examination of his soul and it creates a relaxing, therapeutic listen throughout the project.

With “Pidurangala Rocks” Eliturite keeps it introspective, ”…spent my life trying to get my name on leaderboards, never knew I could say ‘fuck games’ and leave the board,” but this time he turns the mirror around and takes aim at the fakers and perpetrators by poking light fun at the fakeness of today’s Hip-Hop scene with the hook. This track and a lot of Eliturite’s work reminds me of Common’s discography in that the steadiness of the soundscapes and softly powerful confidence in the content of their words achieve a meditative quality in their music.

“Deuce Flip” produced by DJ Harrison is the subject of Eliturite’s most recent visual. The track shows off the bars and the video shows off beautiful mountainous scenery that feels like an appropriate backdrop for this project. “The Other 50” is a theatric interlude that introduces a segment of the album designed as a window into a night in Mr. Hedrick’s home and especially his marriage. The Ant-produced “Easy Night” and “freshafterwake” range thematically from the mundane to the pornographic, but the common thread is a laid back passion and respect for their bond— and the artform. The latter track includes a sultry horn arrangement by Tennishu of James Infinite and the former features Madam S’il Vous Plait (his wife, Rian) herself kicking a flow we get a BTS moment with at the song’s close. This portion of the album showcases the creativity and execution that make the HearRVA First-Family, this LP, and this MC special.

“tripintodaylight” is the figurative next morning and legendary Richmond producer, Ohbliv is serving the sunshine with a breezy guitar loop complimenting Eliturite’s breakfast bars. Now that we’re out the door it’s time to go to work. “Sometimes-Remix” finds the Vintage Youth founder hosting two of the city’s finest in Illa Styles Ty Sorell on top of more stellar Ant the Symbol production. Eliturite’s vocals on this song are the project’s most melodic and adventurous, but they remain grounded and once again true to the essence of a rapper’s rapper. “Rainbows in the Dark” (prod. By Scoopkid) is Elijah coming home once again to a night with his family and basking in their love as well as the achievement of After Wake. He even hits a fake-out encore before he fades out with more mundane--umental memories with his wife and son. Yes, "mundane-umental" is a made-up word and no, it not a diss. It means the little things can really be the big things. This album does a fantastic job of promoting that idea both in its content and execution.

Hopefully Eliturite conquered any future hesistance to step from behind the scenes and into the limelight with After Wake because this is a great listen and we can’t wait to hear more.



Written by: Zach Kirby @itskirbs804

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