Tag Archives: trap

Gunna – Drip or Drown 2

9 May

Drip or Drown 2 is, more than any other aquatic metaphor, distilled. It is muted and monotonic, taking the already focused subgenre of trap and focusing it even further. This is an album that’s specific in its intent and strong in its speech.

This focus gives it a relentless feel that fully enthralls. “Baby Birkin” takes the trap tic of repeating the end of the line and does it excellently. This may be a cliche in the form now, but it keeps the song from easy resolutions and so fascinates, albeit while being mentally exhausting. There are some very strong singles in here, with “Speed It Up” being similarly intriguing and “Who You Fooling” bringing in some astonishing Japanese strings. The production is consistently excellent and Gunna mixes up the singlemindedness of the beats cleverly with his raps.

This is a very linear album though, and that focus results in clarity at its best, but blandness at its worst. It’s at its best far, far more than at its worst though. This is an exceptional album. However, in it’s commitment to fully explore every idea it presents, it ends up slightly lacking in variety. However, this is a clever, accomplished album and a strong call to attention for a rapidly rising rapper. In his smelting of the genre, Gunna has forged something unique and you should definitely check it out.

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Offset – FATHER OF 4

31 Mar

There’s no question that Migos is extremely important in the moment. It is arguably the band most responsible for the rise of trap and just as arguably the most important group in trap today. FATHER OF 4, a solo act from Offset largely continues in the pattern that they’ve set down, but deviates in one extremely important way, the title track.

Trap, and contemporary music as a whole, have deeply internalized the mixtape culture and Migos has done that more than many. This is part of how their greatest stuff has come to be, but it’s also why all of their albums, without exception, suffer from bloat. FATHER OF 4 lowers this bar further with an absolute glut of mediocre music. There’s very little that’s actually bad and it mostly ranges from decent to fairly good, but there’s little here that’s memorable. From “Wild Wild West” to “Tats On My Face” to even “Clout”, which features a Cardi B reunion, the music is fun but unmemorable. “North Star” has the misstep of a CeeLo feature to bring down what would be a pretty good song otherwise. “Lick” is quite good though.

The reason to listen to the album though is the breathtaking title track. “Father of 4” sees Offset talking about and talking to each of his four kids and is beautifully heartfelt. His storytelling is nothing short of shattering in its economy. When he sings about his first daughter, he opens with the lines “Tell the truth, I ain’t really know if I was your father / Tell the truth, I really don’t even know your mama” and the story of growth that comes across from just those lines is vivid. His line later in that verse, “in the pen when she pushed you out,” paints a brutal picture.

In the same way, look at the fatherhood in the lines “My son, Kody, he three, rappin’ already lie me / Ridin’ in the car, you don’t play me, then he gon’ scream.” The start of that chorus is just also just wonderful. It’s uncommon in rap to see stories of parenthood like this. Jay-Z is out here with the investment banker’s approach to being a father, and that’s also great to listen to, but Offset’s story of maturity is unique and deeply compelling

While there’s unquestionably a lot of filler in Father of 4, the title track is just some of the best music of the year and honestly, the rest is pretty fun as well.

Migos – Culture 2

1 Mar

Where their previous album was a statement of intent, Culture 2 is a victory lap. Trap is the biggest thing going around and Migos are bona-fide superstars as a result. Like an actual victory lap, this album is rather more relaxed than the run that it took to get here. There’s maybe a little too much playing to the crowd, a little too much space for friends to jump in and just a little too much self-indulgence. Still, a victory lap is not meant to break world records, it’s just a moment to celebrate with the winners and why would I begrudge them that?

Also, this album is of strikingly consistent quality despite the length. The singles definitely stand out with the Kanye-produced “BBO (Bad Bitches Only)” and Pharell-produced “Stir Fry” as particularly memorable. Similarly, the chant in “Auto Pilot” is insistent. However, the album as a whole is just good, muscular rap. A couple of songs are forgettable, and the guest spots mostly feel unrealized, but there’s not a single song in the album that breaks the flow and most of them will drag you deeper in.

It’s worth going over again just how good most of the music in this is. I just happen to have “Movin’ Too Fast” on and the drowned beat in it is just excellent. Offset flows so smoothly for the first half and is then broken cleanly by the gravel in Takeoff’s verse which goes back to Offset before Quavo’s yelps put an almost-jarringly new spin on the song.

It jumps quickly from radio-ready to experimental and back again. The result is definitely a little inchoate, but the quality is steady across both types. It’s a slightly messy album and the ideas come fast and hard, but I don’t want a Migos album built under a waterfall in the first place. While Culture 2 lacks the focus of their previous album, and with that some of the quality, it’s still a lot of fun to listen to, all 105 minutes of it.

@murthynikhil

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