Challenga – M.O.N.E.Y.


From Manhattan, New York, parents divorced at the age of 5. Relocated with grandparents in Hong Kong from age 5 to 9. Went back to New York and lived in Brooklyn with Mom and Brother til 14, mom remarried and moved out to Vancouver, Canada and lived there for a year and then moved again to Oakland California, attended skyline high for half of freshmen year and switch to Oakland High School. Graduated Oakland High school in 07 and attended University of California Davis. And that is all there is to know about Challenga from where he currently stands, with his first official EP entitled M.O.N.E.Y.

Who knows where the money goes from here, but that’s where it came from and it’s a solid place to start as “604” immediately establishes his rap prowess as a force to reckon with. It doesn’t matter if you’ve heard him before, he makes a huge first impression. At least he did every time I listened to each magnificent cut off this EP. It’s adult lingo-oriented but within that context it’s a standard that floats the right boat, so to speak. You don’t come across this every day, and I also don’t know of any other work by producer 40K, but his credit is due as well, for the liquid mix that keeps it together.

You feel the words as much as you hear them, and that’s where the engineering comes in and works its overall magic on top of the rhythm that says busy the whole time he’s rapping to the beat. “Blow” is the most superior song out of the five, for those who don’t just call them tunes. He gets into some drug culture and other subjects to make this one stand-out, but that doesn’t stop here. It does continue to get stronger, which is another bridge to cross without burning when it comes. It’s worth it to take this one in at full volume, then tone it down and really listen to the next track on headphones if you want the words.

It will sink in with much more success if you follow that advice on “It Will Be No Different” unless the lyrics to rap aren’t important to you, and that would be a rare thing considering it is a vocal-driven artform and vehicle for the voice. This is where his writing skills either hit their zenith point or don’t. It can go either way but mostly likely it won’t if you’re a hip hop, soul and R&B lover. It’s all in there for the taking, so make sure you’ve got some ear buds handy and you’ll get the gist without having to repeat any lyrics in this review. The hypnotic keys and syncopated beats enhance it all-the more.

The title rap is “M.O.N.E.Y.” and it deals with all kinds of what he’s carrying as beat clout to over rhyme without over shining. It all comes out in the wash like a good stand-up comic routine, only applied to the obvious. He’s crunching numbers for the sole value of his own soul satisfaction, and if you like it, he’s reaching the right minds, souls and bowl-smoking fans he’s preaching to. He makes it perfectly clear not to take everything he songs so seriously, but he doesn’t pull any punches either. He takes it out in style with the sonically spacy, socio-political rhymes of “Queenless” to seal the real M.O.N.E.Y. deal.


Mike Tabor