Album of the week: Smino – She Already Decided
Some rappers incorporate different flows in their music with an unflappable ease. Smino invents them. The St. Louis native’s new mixtape She Already Decided is a zig-zag hosh-posh of vocal exercising. Very rarely (if at all) does he stick with the same cadence for an entire verse. Once he finds the right pocket, there’s no one who even comes close to his gymnastics.
The wide range of production choice gives Smino an opportunity to illustrate the full breadth of his artistry. He transitions seamlessly within a verse between conventional rhyme schemes and light pitter-patters that carry the feathery touch of a flurry snow shower.
Smino finds time to construct his own ideas on various pre-recorded instrumentals such as, Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage,” Roddy Ricch’s “The Box,” and Baby Keem’s “Orange Soda.” These aren’t just freestyles either; they’re completely different spins on each song. Every track is entertaining in some way on here.
This is a great appetizer for his next full-length album; whenever that is.
Benjy Ali – Grace
Benjy Ali is a singer/songwriter from Brockton, MA. His preferred style on his new EP Grace comprises of atmospheric R&B, funk-inspired dancehall, spacey auto-tune and blunt confessionals. His genre-defying sound gives listeners a swift dose of versatility without showing too much. Ali seems to be describing a long lost relationship within these songs; reminiscing and hoping to find future happiness in the process. The way he manipulates his voice, particularly on “Be My Home,” is quite impressive. He yearns for a better life with a significant other in heartbreaking melisma. I’ll be on the lookout for more music in the future.
Rucci – I’m Still Me
While we’re still on the EP train, here’s another batch of new music from Inglewood name-stay Rucci. The “Bong in the Booth” rapper provides us with the perfect post-quarantine summer playlist. All five songs benefit from traditional west coast post-hyphy production and Rucci’s undeniable personality. AZChike, Vince Staples, and RJmrLA matches his energy bar for bar. This project is slick all around, from the memorable choruses, hard-nosed street vernacular, and indisputable swagger.
Roll the windows down and go 85 on the highway for this one (okay maybe don’t do the last thing…stay safe everyone).
Earl Sweatshirt (feat. Maxo) – “Whole World”
This song works both as a coming of age story and an astute observation of our crumbling empire surrounding us. Maxo and Earl Sweatshirt are some of the best rappers when it comes to stringing soul-crushing bars together for spiritual enlightenment. They examine the mind and body on “Whole World” with apocalyptic imagery and horror movie-style interpretations. There isn’t a better time to rap about gods, devils and skeletons than right at this very moment. Maxo’s last bar on his verse has the ability to stop what you’re doing for five minutes (“Eyes to my feet, can’t stand what I see”).
Kasha Paige – “Frank Ocean”
In my opinion, this is some of Paige’s best-written material to date. I love her interpolation of Frank Ocean’s “Thinking About You” in the chorus. It adds so much subtle dimension to a song that carries a familiar narrative about love. Every note extends to mimic a slow-moving fever that plasters itself into a sludge-like substance. Her command of auto-tune and atmosphere is impressive. I’m excited to see her followup to last year’s Parked Car Convos.
WiFiGawd & Tony Seltzer – Heat Check 2
A heat check in basketball occurs when one player scores at rapid pace during a very short period of time. No one on the defense can stop that player for at least a few minutes. This album is the music equivalent of that. Once the flute and 808s hit on “Learn Something,” there’s no slowing this dynamic duo. Patrick Beverly couldn’t even try.
Juice WRLD – “Righteous”
This is the first posthumous release from the Juice WRLD camp. It’s a well-put-together song, though I’m surprised they decided to put it out this quickly. It’s only been four months.
On top of that, the material paints Juice as a martyr for consistent drug use. It’s very on-brand, but it comes off a bit tone deaf considering the cause of his death. The track seems sad by necessity. Kind of wish they found something a little more upbeat and less vivid (like in the breath of “Armed & Dangerous”).