“I wanted to create something like an audio movie where the instrumental would serve as the score and the lyrics would narrate whatever subject matter I choose to tackle.”—Sheik Kargbo on his new album, The Speakeasy Experience

The old saying goes that good things come to those who wait, and that’s most certainly the truth when it comes to The Speakeasy Experience, the highly anticipated new album from the Alexandria, VA native, Sheik Kargbo. The multi-talented artist has been crafting this record for the past several years, and it’s clear that his hard work has paid off—and then some.

That much was evident with the release of the project’s singles, such as the gripping “New Neighbors” and the harrowing “Trapped (Buck Feeva),” which were also brought to life with stark videos. These tracks helped to paint a vivid picture of what fans could expect from The Speakeasy Experience, a project that stays true to Kargbo’s vision and sound. He accomplished this by not only delivering razor-sharp rhymes, but also producing the entire album and only enlisting a few guests over its 20 tracks.

“With this album I wanted the listener to hear it from me, my experiences,” Kargbo says. “Like a one-stop shop of Hip-Hop, where the instrumental and the lyrics would develop from the same mind.”

Through maintaining creative control over his project, Kargbo was able to put together a cohesive and well-rounded listening experience while also showcasing just how deep his talents run. It’d be enough for him to be a gifted emcee and lyricist, but his skills as a producer are just as impressive. That goes for whether he’s lacing the aptly titled “Sinister” with eerie instrumentation, flirting with Hip house on “The Breather,” or layering 2pac samples into the stunning and powerful closer “Black Moor.”

That strength in musical diversity stems from Kargbo’s childhood, which included moving from Sierra Leone to Virginia, and studying a wide range of artists (from Thelonious Monk to Captain Beefheart to the Neptunes). He credits that time as setting the tone for his creative outlet, which has led to one of the year’s finest albums so far.