A Boogie wit da Hoodie festers in a monotonous alternate universe where his “uniqueness” is apparently saving the rap genre. In this modified state of mind, the Bronx native is by far the most original artist of the past ten years. Not Young Thug; not Future; not Kendrick.
Immediately following the release of his newest album Artist 2.0, A Boogie went on a newsworthy rampage, threatening to sue hip hop artists who “sound like him,” and stating that too many rappers are “making this shit boring.” It’s a ridiculous sentiment considering how contemporary his newest project sounds.
Sure, one could make the pointless argument that Boogie separated himself from a state stuck in tradition back in 2017; but its not like it matters in the wider scope of things. His voice still carries the aura of Speaker Knockerz, while the guitar-laden production features Juice WRLD’s imprint. Most of all, he’s executing the same shit he was from two years ago. There’s been very little development in his lyrical and vocal ability; just a lot of copying.
“Me and My Guitar’s” rock-inspired inflections could’ve easily fit snug within Trippie Redd’s Love Letter For You mix-tapes, while “Thug Love’s” vulnerability is completely contradicted by generic masculine tropes (But you say you want thug love/But this ain’t no fucking love song, yeah, yeah/Ah, ah, pretty when you cry, ah/Pullin’ on your panty strings, put ’em to the side.”).
It’s probably best to not bother with the lyrics anyway, as most of them don’t even register. Unlike Uzi, who can turn the most banal subject matter into riveting acrobatics, Boogie sings and raps about money, guns, loyalty, and girls in the most cliched way imaginable. Like any other mainstream street project, he follows the bland formula of feature-heavy cash grabs, five or so songs about materialism (but not interesting), and one or two tracks riddled with actual emotion (“Streets Don’t Love You”, “DTB 4 Life”). The rest is filler to boost streaming numbers.
A lot of rap fans love to compare Lil Tjay to Boogie. They’re both from the Bronx, they’re both auto-crooners, and they both love to talk about the streets. The big difference here is Tjay is more versatile. He’s fine with stepping outside of his comfort zone of piano-heavy cerebrations (“Leaked” and “Hold On” are great examples of different styles), whereas Boogie lives in his own little bubble of heartless medley.
The guest list is notably action-packed; Roddy Rich, Dababy, Khalid, Summer Walker, Young Thug and Lil Uzi Vert (twice) all make appearances. You could make the case that every one of these artists have impacted their respective lanes one way or another, and yet, Boogie somehow brings the aforementioned drabness out of them.
The normally elusive Thugger attempts to play the role of rockstar on “Might Not Give Up,” but keeps the same laborious flow for half the song. Khalid and Dababy serve up the same plate of soft-spoken R&B and double-time raps respectively (“Another Day Gone” and “Stain”). Uzi and Roddy keep the train moving, but not enough for Boogie to catch up (“I got my dawgs in this bitch, I know they gon’ shoot shit up/And my lil’ brother turned to a drummer/Walked him outside, not he got a drummer”). And Boogie lingers in the background, trying so hard to find uninteresting tidbit of information.
It’s one thing to go about your business while making whatever music you want. It’s another to act self-righteous while completely disregarding a genre that’s changing by the day. Boogie’s entitlement doesn’t bode well in an environment that’s clearly inspired him in every way, shape and form. In fact, every feature on this album has contributed much more to the genre than Boogie ever has. When something is considered “2.0,” it usually signifies a stark improvement of some kind. I guess in Boogie’s terms though, a stylistic update is the equivalent of a Dell computer in 2020.