From Calhoun & Fessenden, the North Portland native Mat Randol has long been one of Portland’s more curious hip-hop artisans. From blazing local features and helping to found the well-dispersed NB Group, to temporarily retiring from rap to endeavor in sonic engineering, Mat has been a quietly key component of the PDX rap scene, helping to drive the unique culture of St. Johns.

His new 9-track project, alignment., is impressively heavy. The album flows remarkably well despite scattered production credits that include local standouts Neill Von Tally, Fountaine and Ed Cruz. Well manicured tracks showcase Mat’s always formidable rap skills amongst a forest of hats, drops and sample chops. Complex bars about love, coming to terms with his musical journey, love for the art and raising his infant son contrast sharply with his occasional braggadocios outbursts and angry rants, providing seemingly honest access to the rapper’s POV. Ahhh… alignment.

Not the type of album you listen to and discard, I found myself frequently rewinding and replaying on the first listen, and continue to find new gems after several go-rounds. 39 minutes of music, but hours of replay ability make this one of my favorite releases of the year. Such a personal story, alignment mainly showcases Mat’s assertive yet pained voice. He does reach out to Daelonz, Kahlo, and Grape God on crew track ominous optimist though, and employs a bevy of singers and spoken words artists throughout the decidedly vibey project.

The young rapper also put together a web mini-series, The Path To Alignment, available for free viewing on his YouTube page. A quality project drenched in underground PDX rap culture, don’t miss out on the next big secret from St. Johns’ latest offering.