Detroit emcee Valid coming off Bill & Isiah’s self-titled debut from last spring with his debut mixtape. Introducing himself properly in 2015 with Reach High, he would follow it up in 2019 getting more personal on the sophomore effort Mihajlo which I personally would recommend to anyone as the best place to start for anyone who wants to get up on Valid’s music & eventually the Plum Brandy EP only 9 months later. However after teasing The Bronko Tape recently in the form of a couple singles, now is the time for Valid to return for the first solo project of his in nearly 4 years.

“Big Bronko” has this mobster-like sample from Pig Pen so Valid can liken himself to Bronko Lubich who competed in the National Wrestling Alliance, Stampede Wrestling, World Class Championship Wrestling & Jim Crockett Promotions from the early 50s to the early 70s whereas “Frozen Over Twice” works in this accordion flip from Middle Finger Music in-house producer Peace of Mind with DJ Los on the turntables talking about being known for doing the impossible. “Fever” goes into a silkier direction explaining everything’s been the same just before “Prayer for the Players” featuring Big Herk & Fat Ray finds the trio over a soulful boom bap instrumental from Simple Cuts spitting gospel for the gangstas.

Nearing the end of the first half of the tape “Let It Bang” featuring Asaka the Renegade talking about how heartless these hoes can be & Nick Speed paying tribute to the greatest Texas hip hop duo of all-time UGK behind the boards leading into the “Cyclone” featuring & produced by Ilajide formerly of the Clear Soul Forces going for a funky trap vibe looking to stir up shit similar to a storm or system of winds rotating inward to an area of low atmospheric pressure. Bill & Isiah link back up with the help of S.A.G.E. for “Dark Road” asking how you like them know over pianos & hi-hats, but then “Always Be Me” stays true to himself over a boom bap beat.

“Do You Remember” blends a soul sample with kicks & snares describing a romantic interest who he viewed as an angel while “Forever & a Day” assures to tell him all your insecurities for him to embrace” over a luxurious boom bap instrumental. “Hell of a Love” draws near the end of the tape by really digging in the crates with it’s vintage sampling helping this woman with her self-esteem & the jazzy “Random Thoughts” rounds everything out by making a whole song around the fact that he & Tony Rizzo could talk about anything in the lab with.

Like I mentioned: This was the first solo project that Valid has put out in damn near 4 years since it’s anniversary is next Wednesday & much like the last full-length we got from him which will already be turning 5 this spring, The Bronko Tape is most certainly a step above Plum Brandy when he put it out literally before everyone’s lives changed forever. Don’t get me wrong: Plum Brandy was a fresh showcasing of his Serbian roots, but I like the production here better & the homages to Bronko Lubich as a wrestling fan myself.

Score: 8/10