Review written by Steven V. (@ambitouS_Vision).

Amongst a digital age where it is no secret that attention spans have been shortened, it can be argued that first impressions are more important than they have ever been. Especially in the music business, a first impression is key, and it seems as if Chicago emcee Alex Wiley has grasped the importance of having a quality debut release. After building up his buzz by releasing a joint project with fellow Chicagoan Kembe X and a couple of visuals for singles “Mo Purp” and “Thug Angel,” Wiley solidified his presence on the Chicago rap scene with his debut mixtape #ClubWiley.

As of late, Chicago rap has garnered attention nationwide thanks to artists like Chief Keef, Lil Reese, Young Chop and Chance the Rapper. This attention has somewhat opened the door for other Chicago rappers such as Alex, and he made sure he capitalized on the opportunity. As soon as Club Wiley starts, you know you’re in for an epic ride once the intro track culminates into Alex’s voice being played backwards, which sets up an amazing drop for the second track “Own Lane.” Wiley’s knack for creating a catchy tune is immediately put on display, as both the bridge and hook in this song just make you want to nod your head.

This feeling only continues as Rozart literally leaves the listener “Earfucked” in the next track, combining Wiley’s melodies with guitar samples, crazy drums, gunshots and eventually Ludacris yelling “move bitch, get out the way!” while Alex harmonizes in the background. Regular computer speakers definitely do not do that song any justice. Chance the Rapper joins the club in the next cut, as the two Chicago natives recreate a Kanye classic from College Dropout. Credit must be given to Wes Freeman here for creating such a soulful beat, as well as GLC for gracing the young emcees with his presence because without that feature, the song could not have rightfully been called “Spaceship II.” Wiley and Chance also handle their business, making this one of the standout tracks on the tape.

More of Wiley’s harmonizing can be found on “The Woods,” another song that has a lot going on with live instrumentation as horns and a guitar solo somehow blend well with the emcee singing about needing to be on his own and having a house full of bitches. “Creepin” is definitely another standout track, as Alex is on point once again with a great hook and bridge combination. A feature from Freddie Gibbs also doesn’t hurt. “Thug Angel” features one of the best verses on the entire tape and Wiley’s confidence to recycle one of his better verses from the Can I Borrow A Dollar? EP is also commended here as it was worthy of some more shine.

For the true rap fans, the harmonizing and the catchy hooks just do not cut it. Well, the next track on the tape is certainly for you guys, because Alex absolutely rips a pure hip-hop beat with no guitars or other instruments and quite frankly, shows a different side of himself as an artist. Once the beat switches up though, the track “Nothing To Me” just gets even better, because Village member Monster Mike destroys his feature, in true monster fashion, and arguably has one of the top verses on the whole project, showing that Alex is not one to hog the spotlight from his crew. This unselfishness is a trend throughout the rest of the tape, as Chance and Vic Mensa join him for the ode to Chicago juke music with “K Swiss.” The true rap fans also get another fix when Kembe X finally makes his appearance in “Midnight To Morning,” which shows the duo in full lyrical force with a powerful beat from Hippie Sabotage.

Club Wiley is riddled with the typical hip-hop subjects of smoking chronic, abusing other drugs and not caring about women, but Wiley really shows his versatility with “Suck It Revolution,” an inspiring song that encourages the listener to get out there and make a living doing what you want to do. The encore portion of the mixtape, or the bonus tracks, continue to show Alex’s willingness to work with other artists, as Vic Mensa and Action Bronson both provide incredible verses over Chuck Inglish and Thelonious Martin production respectively. “G-Unit Spinner Chain” shows more of this versatility, as the Hood Internet combines with Javelin to create what can only be described as a jam. The song almost has an early Cudi-like vibe, but Alex’s rapid-fire raps  and yet another catchy hook make this vibe a new one that is all his own. “Mo Purp” is probably one of the best ways he could have pleased fans and concluded the tape, considering it was the first song and video to be released for it.

Overall, this was a stellar debut from Alex Wiley, but this review would not be complete without mentioning Closed Sessions. The independent Chicago label has provided us with nothing short of quality rap music in its short life, and there is no telling what the future holds for them. As long as they continue to release music like this, they’ll surely continue to make a name for themselves. The production and mixing on this project were incredible and everything sounded crisp. We can’t wait to see what they have in store for the Vic Mensa’s Innanet Tape. For now, Club Wiley will remain in heavy rotation and, without a doubt, serves as a great first impression.

Download Alex Wiley’s Club Wiley and let us know what you think in the comments!