In the past, Columbus, Ohio has scarcely been considered a prominent home base for female rappers, but leaders of the new school including Stephenie Denise and Bree the Rapper amongst others, have negated that assumption. At 22 years old, rapper Liyah Moni’s third EP ‘It Starts Here 2’ has quantified her place in the Columbus hip-hop scene, with a swaggering, no-holds-barred truth and pride about her artistry.
Liyah Moni’s project opens with the dreamy, languorous Recognize’, which features vocalist Alex, in which Moni notes her promises and desires as an artist: “Aren’t they tired of second placement?/I’m coming up but I ain’t a runner up.” The track is a calm listen, even upon Liyah Moni’s swift rhymes.
The EP takes a slight drop on ‘Body Language’ and ‘Therapy Interlude’; however, they are not at Moni’s liability. The sexually tinged ‘Body Language’ features an interpolation of ‘Pony’ by Domo Favors, but it is his altered vocals that hinder the progression of the track. Liyah Moni herself even sounds uncomfortable on the track, with the carnal repetition of “Don’t stress me out, just stretch it out.”
‘Therapy Interlude’ with sole vocals by The Ace of Spades, includes sleepy vocals by The Ace of Spades atop of a hazy production. While the production itself is smooth, the song itself seems out of place with the EP.
Though features on ‘It Starts Here 2’ may diminish the quality of the project, this does not hinder Liyah Moni’s lyrical bravado. In fact, she reclaims herself on standout cuts such as ‘City Love’, ‘Do Not Disturb’ and the front running ‘Gimmie More’. The latter song, is club-oriented, in which her sexual content sounds stronger when she is being boastful rather than on an slower, erotic track (‘Body Language’). Though Moni’s vocals on the testimonial ‘Do Not Disturb’ are off base with production, she explains her singular mode, having peace within being her own artist without any distractions: “I’m over that crew love, most of the people in your circle don’t show love.”
The final track is ‘May I?’, where Liyah Moni professes that she does not aspire to liken herself with other female rappers beyond her own realm: “Want me to sound like Lil Kim or Nicki M., but I don’t wanna sound like them/I got my own sound from Ohio.”
‘It Starts Here 2’ is a solid effort from Liyah Moni, with her consistency and resilient penmanship. Even as Moni roams for new experiences (“I love my city, though there’s more to life, and I’m tryna view it all”), it is her firmly rooted loyalty to her home, which will continue to propel her gift.