Over the course of the past summer, you may have come across a couple of posts featuring the Massachusetts-based hip-hop duo DJ Manipulator and Louie Gonz, and as you may recall the duo have collaborated together in a number of ways through the years; however, 2014’s Private Stock was the duo’s debut as a cohesive, collaborative unit.
The duo’s sophomore effort together, The Loops was released earlier this year, and the album was intended to be a bold reintroduction to the duo, whose sound draws from soulful, golden era hip-hop — all while avoiding mimicry. Interestingly, The Loops’ latest single “Forward” finds Louie Gonz, putting aside the braggadocio and rhyming with a sober and sincere thoughtfulness on the struggles, demons and difficulties he’s faced both as a person and artist, including haters, naysayers and critics, the deaths of dear loved ones and friends, alcohol, depression, the possibility of an empty life without music and even Satan — but throughout it all, the message is that Gonz and Manipulator have always focused on their dream of creating music, which has kept them moving forward. Gonz’s lyrics are paired with a soulful and meditative DJ Manipulator production that subtly nods at Pete Rock and CL Smooth.
Shot in a cinematic black and white and co-directed by DJ Manipulator and Louie Gonz, the visuals follow nearly every element of Gonz’s lyrics, as it follows Gonz through daily life in his hometown, spending time with his beloved family and loved ones, struggling with alcohol (with the bottle of rum he can’t seem to put down); in fact, the video reveals a humility and honesty that can sometimes be all too rare in hip hop, before closing with a dedication to Gonz’s late father, Luis A. Gonzalez, Sr.