New York emcee Realio Sparkzwell has been on an absolute tear these past few years with one strong release after the next. And with his latest, the conceptual Bloody Luciano LP, he continues to outdo himself while proving that his pen game is one of the sharpest around.
“This is soul music, my music comes from my heart and it’s coming from a real live place of experience so I strive to drop jewels in my music too. It ain’t what you do, it’s how you do it.”—Realio Sparkzwell on his creative process and his new album, Bloody Luciano
The 14-track project is anchored by Cali producer Clypto, whose haunting boom-bap instrumentals fill the air of Bloody Luciano with a thick haze of smoke. It’s an incredibly apt setting for Sparkzwell, who brings a Mafioso-rap edge to the affair while keeping everything grounded in a reality that hits very close to home. It’s been a minute at this point, but he spent years running with a crew that turned tragic due to death or imprisonment.
With Bloody Luciano, you’re not getting some kind of peek behind the curtain exactly, but you are getting a better sense of Sparkzwell’s mindset. It’s one filled with pain, wit, paranoia, intelligence, and other aspects you can hear within his rhymes. “You gotta dig into the pictures I paint,” Sparkzwell says. “There’s layers to the lyrics man. I don’t just say shit to say it. Every single detail had meaning, ya feel me?”
Those lyrical layers are absolutely brimming with vivid imagery. “Crème Brûlée” is a tour de force of double-speak and wordplay, while the wonderfully gritty “Desperados (feat. Ty Farris & Tone Spliff)” demands repeated listens to unpack. And then there’s “Insha Allah,” a highly personal and altogether-stunning cut that details Sparkzwell’s struggles with PTSD and his path toward healing.
Pieces of that imagery are brought to life in the new video for the album’s title track directed by Trigg The Ruler. The clip centers on Sparkzwell in the role of a Mafia don holding court with his cohorts who think they’re in his good graces, only for things to go south rather quickly. It adds a slick touch of cinematic flair to the overall scope of the record, which itself already exudes a true-to-life feel.
It’s for those reasons that Bloody Luciano is more than just another album from Sparkzwell; it’s a moment worth sitting with and hearing unravel with time. And when you hear it for yourself, you’ll begin to understand why. Bloody Luciano is available now through all digital retailers and streaming platforms via BMI 19G7 PUBLISHING CO.