Maryland-based rapper Leon Lonnie is no stranger to bearing his soul when he steps into the booth, and that is exactly what he did with his newest release Story of Leonardo. Unafraid to dig deep onto his thoughts and emotions to search for purpose and inspiration before rapping, what is produced always hits home with his audience. Influenced heavily by his surroundings in Adelphi, MD, about 10 miles from D.C., he is inspired by his brothers that he grew up with.
“I would attribute a lot of my success and up bring as artist to my brother OG who gave my first beat and was my door into music in a sense. Also my other brother medicine who gave me a different focus which making beats and producing which is till in the works… Also my brother Corey who I met this summer but was important to the success of the album by providing his vocals on note to self.”
Before releasing his newest tape, Story of Leonardo, he gave us a small EP with just three tracks and an outro. All three songs, while they do find themselves on the full-length EP, take on new meaning in the context of the project as a whole.
Thought I Knew You, one of the highlights on the tape, is a soulful ballad about a love lost and the emotions that can arise when that person finds love again. Linking up with George Howard for the video, it’s a perfect combination of great vibes and and gripping visuals.
Linking with producer Yondo for 4 tracks off of the project, Need to Know (feat. OG) is the first in order to appear on the project. Leon Lonnie starts the flame and OG spits fire to close the song out. The pair go together well on a track and this production assist hits the ears perfectly. Notes to Self (feat. Cheyenne, Zaddy Jong & Corey) features an incredibly euphoric beat from producer Yondo and a beautiful singing performance from Cheyenne. The track was solid, but I found myself wanting more from her as she provided a great vibe to the sound. Features from rappers Zaddy Jong and Corey fit the mood of the song perfectly as the three exchange verses over the 3 and a half minute cut.
Sliding into Aluma Alish, he uses another beat from producer Yondo that features a great flute-type of instrumental and an old-school 90’s feel. Giving Lonnie a chance to speak his thoughts inside the studio, he isn’t afraid to change up his flow and cadence as he raps. On the fourth and final track from Yondo on the project, Self Control (which was also featured on The Lonnie Tapes), his wavy vocals highlight the track.
FreeStyle (prod. Hazard) almost continues the energy of Thought I Knew You, repeating part of the chorus in the verse on this song. This a track that Leon Lonnie really digs deep for. The production matches the energy behind the lyrics as he rips his heart out as he sings. Necessary Beneficial Transformation, an interlude of sorts, that reads almost like a spoken word. He tells his story of personal growth and details the passion behind his music.
“Guided by the inner voice he was transformed from a timid observer to a lion ready to battle.”
I Want You Alive (Suicide Prevention) (Prod. Mxdnight), is an incredible track that is beautiful in both sound and sentiment. Touching on mental health and lending a helping hand to anyone who is going through depression, Lonnie sings:
the phone number to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. He touches on very serious topics while at the same time giving us a great track as well.
This project from the Maryland rapper is a cohesive tape that tells the story of a young man who through his lowest points found strength and inspiration for change. On the grind on his way out of the underground he has certainly created a sound for himself and I am excited to see how he progresses as as artist. Although he is very young in his craft, his potential is immense. Releasing a very solid project overall, there is no doubt in my mind that this is only the beginning for Leon Lonnie.
Be sure to click the link below to listen to Story of Leonardo!