In the vast and ever-expanding landscape of music in Milwaukee, Eli $tones is someone who has stood out since he arrived. He is an artist who seems to be able to do anything when it comes to Hip Hop. Every time I have heard him so far, he has come in with a new and different sound and style. It feels like Eli is a chameleon when it comes to his craft; nothing is holding him back from making any kind of Hip Hop he wants to. Another noticeable thing about Eli $tones is the raw honesty and passion in his lyrics. Eli is an artist that wears his heart on his sleeve. He is not afraid to let the listener know who he is and where he has been. This helps so many of his listeners relate to him and empathize with his life. With that being said, here is how I feel about his new project, $ticks and $tones. Please let me know in the comments how you feel about this record, and also let me know your favorite songs from it are.
This record starts with the title track, which is a verbal introduction to the album and not a song. ‘$ticks and $tones’ is a poem delivered over an eerie background. Behind the open being delivered, there is crackling, the sound of footsteps, and the sound of unkind laughter. It gives the track a very ominous feeling. On ‘$ticks and $tones’ Eli proclaims he has been through so much turmoil that he doesn’t know who he was or who he is anymore. Ultimately, he is grateful that people are willing to listen to his story. The first song from the record is ‘Came Along.’ This song has a neo-R&B tinted Trap instrumental which has an otherworldly feeling to it. The melody is based around a Synth-driven riff that reminds me a lot of Frank Ocean. This riff has a very atmospheric and almost futuristic sound. The Synth riff is complemented by a variety of string and horn instrument sounds which give the song a bigger and bolder sound as they come it. Eli’s flow and vocal tone ride this instrumental very well. The raspiness of his voice creates a nice juxtaposition with the instrumental. On ‘Came Along,’ Eli $tones is calling out a girl he was with who says she cares about him a lot more than her actions indicate. He feels like she is not there for him the way she claims she is, and now she is reminding him of everyone else in his life who has let him down. The next song, ‘In the Dark,’ has a melodic Trap sound that reminds me a lot of artists like Young Thug or Gunna. It specifically reminds me of Young Thug’s album Beautiful Thugger Girls. The guitar riff is super sweet and fun. It is hard to not dance or at least bop your head to the beat. This is the kind of song that could be a party hit. I could see a whole club of people singing their lungs out to this one when it comes on because it’s so catchy. Eli $tones uses a faster flow that goes with the instrumental well. His light and fast vocals are perfect for this kind of melody and beat. On ‘In the Dark,’ Eli is reminiscing about a relationship with a lady he wants back. He feels like they could have been great together. He knows he needs to move on but sort of wants a second chance. Following this, we get ‘No Luck,’ which has a lot more of a straight-up Pop feeling than the first two tracks. The instrumental for this track has an Emo Pop sound which is put over an upbeat Pop-Trap beat. This song is driven by an Emo guitar riff that sets a very melancholy mood. The way Eli delivers his vocals on this track makes me think of artists like Juice Wrld or The Kid Laroi. I can even hear a bit of Justin Bieber in the way Eli $tones flows on this track. I enjoy the ad-libs and background vocals on this song. The harmonies on this song provide so much body and life to it. On ‘No Luck,’ Eli is singing about a failed relationship he thought was going to go the distance. This girl told him he was the one and that he understood her more than anyone, but when he needed a shoulder to lean on she just couldn’t give him what he needed.
‘Get Right’ is a song that slows down the tempo and overall energy of the song in a huge way. This song has a slow and sultry R&B Trap sound that reminds me a lot of artists like 6lack and PartyNextDoor. Something I appreciate about this song is the fact that even though the song has no features, the singing in the chorus almost sounds like a different artist than the rapping in the verses. The vocals in the chorus and verses contrast each other well and provide great texture in this song. On ‘Get Right,’ Eli $tones is asking his girl to prove she wants him how she says he does. He just doesn’t feel her actions match what she tells him, and he needs her to truly show him how she feels if she means what she says. ‘Everything I Got’ is another track with an atmospheric and Alternative R&B Trap sound. This instrumental has such an otherworldly feel; it sounds cyberpunk to me in a way. I love how intricate and sophisticated the sound effects are which makes up this instrumental. Eli’s background vocals which add to the melody are very nice to listen to as well. This song sounds so complicated but flows so smoothly. Similar to the first song, Eli’s raspy and rough vocal style in the verses creates an interesting disparity between the instrumental and the singing in the chorus. The harsh and rugged nature of his voice makes the instrumental sound even more unearthly. On ‘Everything I Got,’ Eli is trying to get over this girl who reminds me of all the bad things that have happened in his life. She betrayed him just like so many people have, and he needs to get over her so he can try to forget about all of this darkness that was previously in his life. Next, we have ‘Mama’ which is probably the highlight of this record in my opinion. In fact, it’s one of my favorite songs of 2022 so far. This is a low-key Acoustic Hip Hop song that hits the listener emotionally. The instrumental is made up of a light drum beat paired with a sweet and sad guitar riff. I love the rhyme scheme on this song. It is not easy to rhyme with the same word for three minutes, and Eli shows off his skills as a rapper on this track(the whole song rhymes with the word “Mama”). This track is an ode to Eli $tones’ mom. On this track, he sings about some of the struggles he had growing up related to his mom’s substance abuse issues. Eli makes sure that his mom knows he loves her on ‘Mama,’ and assures her that he believes in her. What they have been through has only made their bond stronger. Eli also talks about how his mom has always rooted for him on this track, and he wants to make it big to be able to support her. This is a beautiful song, and as a listener, I appreciate Eli letting us in like this because his vulnerability is relatable. Following this, we have ‘Can’t Believe That,’ which is another Pop-Trap banger with a dance club energy to it. This track is driven by a melody that sounds like it comes from a guitar; once again, it has a sweet and fun melody that reminds me of Young Thug’s Beautiful Thugger Girls. One element of this song that stands out is the bass line. It is so funky and groovy and it makes me want to dance. Also, like so many other songs on this record, the melody is added to by Eli’s background vocals. He has a real knack for providing ad-libs that give body and substance to the melody of a song. On ‘Can’t Believe That,’ Eli is rapping about a failed relationship. He put his heart and soul into this partnership, only to be stabbed in the back and left in the dust by someone he thought he had a serious connection with.
Eli $tones goes a harsher and tougher melodic Trap sound with the song ‘Talking.’ This is another song driven by a sweet and easy-going melody that sounds like it comes from string instruments. The best for this song is a lot brasher and in your face than any of the other melodic Trap songs on this record though. The banging 808 drum gives this song so much force. On ‘Talking,’ Eli is asserting how determined he is to make it to the top. He knows he has a lot of people who believe in him and depend on him, and he needs to break through for these people. ‘Now or Never,’ which features Langston, is another harsh and “in your face” melodic Trap song. The energy of this song matches the one that precedes it. This song has the kind of “lullaby” style of melody Future and Migos made popular in the 2010s. The melody is driven by a distorted synthesized keyboard riff and abstract flute noises in the background. They give the song and atmospheric Cloud Trap sort of feel. Langston’s vocals compliment Eli’s well. He has a higher and more nasally pitch, and it sounds nice after the more raspy and low tone Eli $tones has. ‘Now or Never’ is a song about living fast and doing what you want to do. If you don’t go after what you want now you may never do it, so may as well go all out as soon as possible. To end the record we have ‘Save Yourself,’ which is a bold and powerful R&B Trap song which feels like a perfect album closer. This song is driven by a big and bold Synthesized riff that has the ability to tug at your heartstrings. The melody is very grand and very somber; paired with the lyrics and vocals, it has a serious and heavy feeling. The way Eli delivers these vocals adds to the weight of the song. You can just feel the pain and turmoil Eli has endured by the way he sings. On ‘Save Yourself,’ Eli is singing about how he needs to stop associating with people who take advantage of him and bring him down. These people do not have his best interest in mind, and he needs to do what is best for him. Ultimately, it is a great way to end the record because it is something that we all can learn from.
On $ticks and $tones, Eli $tones proves he is one of the most interesting and versatile rappers in the Milwaukee music scene right now. This album has such a diverse sound to it.I $ticks and $tones has elements of gritty and dark Trap music, R&B and R&B Trap music, Cloud Trap music, and Pop-Trap music. No matter what kind of song it is, Eli bares his whole heart and soul on this record. Eli $tones makes it so easy for listeners to connect to his music because of how raw and honest it is. Listeners can relate to what he’s been through, and it makes him so endearing and special. Eli $tones’ $ticks and $tones is a great overall album that shows Eli $tones is one of the most exciting young rappers in the game at the moment.