Although the album dropped back in April, billy woods celebrated his new record, Aethiopes, with help from Preservation at the release party on the rooftop of Elsewhere.
Billy woods has been at it for a while, but anyone unfamiliar with the man may think he's one of rap's hottest new MCs as he's slowly risen in fame over the past few years, notably as one-half of the enigmatic duo Armand Hammer. His latest solo record, and first since 2019, secures his spot as one of underground hip-hop's most vital voices and Aethiopes is the crowning achievement in a long line of impressive records. His knotty rhymes aren't the kind that are sure to be featured in the club or on radio. They're not going to dominate the charts and they're not gonna get you to the dance floor. No, this is twisted, hard hip-hop that takes no prisoners. Bars on bars stack up with pure force over Preservations soulful, dusty grooves and woods' delivery, while remarkable on record, is somehow even more impressive live. As the opening piano notes of "Asylum" rang out to kick off the night, it was clear that the mood was high and woods would be treating the crowd to a killer performance that would soon feature an onslaught of guests. He wasted no time in bringing out ELUCID to bust through their Armand Hammer verses and got Quelle Chris to join them as well for a wicked version of mic-passing hot potato that saw them trade more bars and flex their rhymes while, seemingly, taking no time for air. Their execution was flawless and their ability to consistently keep the crowd in aw was inspiring to witness. While it was billed as a billy woods and Preservation show, the guests didn't stop there as Fatboi Sherif and Breeze Brewin, who woods' declared one of the greatest rappers of all-time, took to the stage to deliver more bangers and unleash their killer flows as well. Breeze tried to exit shortly after taking the mic, but Woods insisted on more since he's rarely on the stage and this wasn't a moment to miss. Even after those slammin' performances it was the guest spot from Despot that felt like the peak of the night. Decimating their track "Versailles," Woods' let the spotlight shine fully on Despot and his command over the crowd proved that the moment was his alone. His verse hit with pure fire and received the largest ovation of the night, raising the bar to a height that was nearly untouchable by anyone else on stage. With a curfew closely approaching, woods brought things back with a relentless renditions of "Remorseless" and "Smith + Cross," the final two tracks on the album, to close out the night. Easily the victory laps on the record, they felt even more purposeful when woods' obliterated them on stage and capped off the evening proving that he's one of the best in the game and while he might not be playing the biggest stages, he's operating at a level all his own and defying any expectations of what a rapper and what hip-hop can be in 2022.