If I’d planned ahead, we could have had an All-Hat Wednesday. Ah well…
David Raposa: I don’t want to sound like the sort of bandwagoneer that’s going to jump off the love train when “all-knowing ” pop-cult dinks like ESPN’s Bill Simmons claim Mr. Gibbs is “the savior of gangsta rap,” but by the sound of this stiffy, it’s like Gibbs started to believe the hype before the hype even really hit. This is big-balls Scarface (as in Pacino) swagger for a guy that, from the mixtape tracks I heard prior, sounds his best when he’s keeping things real and a little more modest. Or maybe I just was never hearing his shit right.
Michaelangelo Matos: The devotion this guy has inspired is impressive. But as someone who hasn’t and isn’t going to download everything to separate the wheat from the chaff (I loved “County Bounce” a while back, was bored stiff by some hotly tipped .zip comp of freestyles, and haven’t had much of an impression beyond them), I’m glad to hear this. It’s serviceable-plus, which seems about right; the workaday is his theme, right? He sounds hungry, another plus. And if the hook isn’t championship, it lodges in my brain pretty well. Of course I want more. But when someone’s plainly talented, it’s OK to settle.
Martin Skidmore: This is terrific: Southern hip hop from someone with a rather Tupacish delivery and two very different paces, and he sounds completely right at both speeds. He’s a consistently interesting lyricist too, with strong and intelligent lines and some of the best internal rhyming I’ve heard in a while. The production is moody, strings and beats, just right. I hope he’s going to be big.
Chuck Eddy: Convincingly downtrodden and depressed opening, no less drab for it. Then he raps fast over slow music, Bone Thugs-style (always a potentially interesting concept on paper, but an ultimately boring one in real life). Doesn’t sound like much else I’ve heard lately, and I have to admit, “We screaming ‘fuck the world'” makes for a halfway inspirational cheer, in its own dumb nihilistic way. And the background orchestrations have some beauty in them. Doesn’t mean I’ll want to hear him rhyme vegetables with testicles again, though.
Al Shipley: You shouldn’t use a title like that unless the chorus is massive, and the chorus is the exact moment when the song sinks from promising to middling.
Jonathan Bogart: Not quite the nihilistic epic the title suggests, it turns out to be more of a smooth-riding chant with uneasy trap percussion. Gibbs shows a real mastery of flow here, with dense verses that don’t quite have the anger I was hoping for, and is let down by a chorus that could be swapped out for any other sentimental upping. Solid enough to demand returning to, and I’ll bellow along happily with “fuck the world,” but it could have been more.