With Diamond Mind, the ambitious debut EP of newcomer Pearl Gates, the rapper succeeds in introducing his well-rounded nature as a taste-making musician. He also surrounds himself with the best company, including guest appearances from acts like Masta Ace, Wordsworth and Khrysis of Justus League (9th Wonder).

Hailing from Washington Heights, Gates released his first mixtape A Star In A Broken Sky in 2014, representing hard for New York City and for underground Hip-Hop heroes alike. Shortly following the release, Gates appeared alongside eMC (Masta Ace, Wordsworth and Stricklin) on “Fly Thoughts,” the first single from their album The Tonight Show.

With a balance of forward-thinking experimentation and vocally and gritty boom bap production, the 8-track EP is a strong showcase of variety. Diamond Mind has a “came from nothing” vibe, with Gates sharing his perspectives in an honest way. He’s genuinely invested in his craft and this charm helps capture independent Hip-Hop’s most favorable qualities in one release.

Lyrically, Gates is a wise writer, with smart storytelling and subtle philosophies from his direct experiences etched into each track. His laid back demeanor isn’t one to be interpreted as lazy or passive; as an MC, he tells it like it is, with a confident lean in his posture and a watchful eye on his future. Focusing on the power of thought, Pearl Gates expresses his frustration with economic and contemporary hardships, as well as detailing the ways in which he feels like both an outsider and a leader.

With a careful selection of beats that best display the artist’s lyrical talent, the EP features production from Khrysis of Justus League, Kic Beats, iRobot Scott (for Matrax Productions), Sirplus, Jay Notez and M. Stacks. Featured artists include Masta Ace, Wordsworth, Boldy James and Stricklin. Given the large amount of features, Gates’s role isn’t overshadowed but strengthened.

Diamond Mind is a well-executed first project from a promising artist. Standout tracks include the title track, “Diamond Mind,” “The Ritual” featuring Masta Ace, “Countdown” and “Winning (Whip It).”