M16 and the Full Moon Wolves are a rap/hip hop/rock group hailing from Durham, N.C. They are centred around M16 (Matthew Grady) who is the lead singer, rapper and songwriter for the group. He was reared in a musical environment (his father was guitarist for the Staple Singers) and was classically trained, playing concerts by twelve.
Backed by the Full Moon Wolves, the music is an original hybrid of hip hop and rap infused with rock, similar in ways to bands like Linkin Park and Limp Biskit, but the rapping and singing owe more to artists Iike Busta Rhymes and Mystical, while vocally reminiscent of Lenny Kravitz.
Opening track Long Time Coming is a great example of his sound, starting with a super catchy chorus hook sung in a distinctive and strong voice. On the verses he displays his rapid fire rapping style and refreshingly, he doesn’t use cuss words unlike so many hip hop rappers. The message behind his music is nearly always positive and life affirming.
Good Music is another great hip hop/pop track that brings to mind the infectious energy of Black Eyed Peas and features some particularly impressive rapping, showing his command of rhythm and rhyme.
Rock Star showcases the rap/rock sound I mentioned, thick electric guitar beefing up the whole track. It features a great female-sung chorus hook and M16 shows his self belief: “A lot of people claim to be king but when they take one look at me they now I’m the real thing…being famous was made for me..”. This excellent track should be a single.
Can’t Tell Me Anything is another strong hip hop/RnB track with a subtle low end guitar riff underpinning it and another great chorus. Stay Fly Ft. AM Star shows his Stevie Wonder influence with some superb vocal harmonies. We In Here ft Panama Red and Ohhh are both more standard RnB/hip hop tracks that continue the high quality and consistency.
Work is one of the catchiest hip hop tracks here, and a particularly fine example of M16’s rapping dexterity, delivering bullet fast verses full of lyrical invention, matched with an insistent hook. American Dream returns to the rap/rock sound and has a fantastic, anthemic chorus to provide a late highlight on the album.
Scream is a fine way to finish with choppy funk guitar grooving the whole track along, though lyrically it has one of the darker themes as it expresses weariness at the demands of his life. Its honesty gives the album an extra emotional depth.
Overall, this is a very strong hip hop album that stands apart from the crowd due to its musical diversity and M16’s dual talents as a rapper and vocalist. He has the consistently good tracks that you need to make it big, and this could well be the album that breaks him and his group.
Verdict 8.7 out of 10