Café Belga - the third studio album of Polish rapper Taco Hemingway, released on July 13, 2018 by Taco Corp and Asfalt Records. The day before, it was made available on the rapper's website and on YouTube. The material, recorded from January to June 2018, was produced by Rumak and Borucci. The physical version was released in a bundle with the mini-album Flagey. The album represents a hip-hop style with trap and pop influences. The main subject of the texts is the criticism of the modern world, in particular the popularity and lack of anonymity.
Café Belga has received a mixed response from music critics. Reviewers especially praised it in comparison to Hemingway's previous recordings, noting the improvement in the quality of the lyrics and the successful production. On the other hand, they criticized the monothematic and singing. The publishing house was nominated for Fryderyk in the hip-hop album of the year category. The album was a commercial success, recording high playback results on streaming services and debuting at the first place on the nationwide OLiS sales list. The Union of Audio-Video Producers awarded him with a platinum certificate for reaching the threshold of 30,000 copies purchased in Poland. Moreover, it was the eleventh best-selling album of 2018 in Poland.
As part of the promotion of the Hemingway publishing house, he embarked on the Café Belga Tour, covering Poland, Great Britain and Ireland.
Genesis, recording and release
Hemingway's previous solo recording, the mini-album Szprycer from July 2017, received negative reviews. Despite this, the EP debuted at the first place on the OLiS sales list, and the rapper was awarded a platinum album for sales of 30,000 copies in Poland and a Fryderyk in the Album of the Year - Hip-Hop category. In April 2018, Hemingway and rapper Quebonafide, operating as part of the Taconafide supergroup, released the joint album Soma 0.5 mg and went on the Ekodiesel Tour, including the largest halls in Poland. In the booklet attached to the album, Taco announced the release of two solo projects in the same year.
Hemingway began recording another solo release, and at the same time the second (after Marble from 2016) studio album, in January 2018. Café Belga was recorded in Studio Nagrywarka in Warsaw, and its production was undertaken by longtime collaborators of the rapper, Rumak and Borucci. The title of the publishing house refers to the Brussels Café Belga. The songs include excerpts from an interview Hemingway gave on May 15, 2018 at Café Belga to journalist Mark Fall. The recordings ended in June 2018. The authors of the cover are Łukasz Partyka, Sonia Szóstak and Piotr Dudek.
The album was released on July 13, 2018 in Empik stores, Asfalt Shop and streaming services. Originally, its premiere was to be accompanied by no announcement and no prior promotion. Despite the order not to open the box with the album before July 13, one of Empik's employees posted information about the album and a photo of the cover on the Internet the day before. Therefore, the rapper accelerated the premiere by placing the entire album on YouTube on July 12, making it available for free in digital download format on his website and starting pre-sale in the Asfalt Shop. A bonus mini-album Flagey and an interview with Fall were included with the physical release of Café Belga. On July 20, 2018, Flagey was also made available on streaming services and YouTube.
Analysis and Interpretation
According to Rafał Samborski from Interia.pl, the album is mainly represented by a trap. A Soul Bowl critic suggested: "You can expect less trap and more pop." Piotr Markowicz from Noizz.pl compared the production to Hemingway's earlier work: "reflecting from post-trap patterns in