Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A$AP Mob - Cozy Tapes, Vol 2: Too Cozy Review

An often under-discussed facet of modern day Hip-Hop is the diminution of supergroups. Looking back on the 90's, the list was bountiful. Outkast, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy, N.W.A. Beastie Boys, Gang Starr, The Roots. Single Rap artists were at a premium, and it wasn't until the turn of the century where the genre reached a new plateau that required faces, like Eminem, Jay-Z, Kanye West, or 50 Cent, to act as identifiable representation for Hip-Hop to the masses. The long-term ramifications of which have never fully healed. In today's age, the amount of stable groups can likely be counted on one hand. That's because an identifier is needed in our image-dominated society. Look back at those 90's groups and while stars emerge, parity is balanced across the board. Now, Odd Future existed to supply the careers of Tyler The Creator, Frank Ocean, and Earl Sweatshirt, the A$AP Mob services Rocky and Ferg, and I give it a year or so before Migos is dissolved and Quavo goes solo. Even the likely yearly Cozy Tapes now showcase the 15-minute trend-bearers just as much as the Mob's own. Maybe it's best that way.

Give credit to Rocky. He's honored the alliance of his group, despite the bulk of his success being credited to himself. Not only has he not ditched the A$AP name, a moniker that places him on equal footing during the Cozy Tapes, but he's contributed a great deal to the project rather than merely giving it his blessing. Last year the first volume, Friends, didn't wow, but it succinctly captured the zeitgeist of Hip-Hop's evolution into feature-heavy round-up tracks. The compilation style, expectedly, carries over here, but did as well on Ferg's most recent disappointment Still Striving. Names this go-around come in the form of Jaden Smith, Gucci Mane, Big Sean, Frank Ocean, and virtually everyone marketable from New York's weak scene on the dizzying 'What Happens.' There's also the 15-year old Smooky MarGielaa who appears on four cuts as the annoying, nasally-sung autotune teen, something that only mildly works on 'Black Card.' MarGiella, along with Playboi Carti, are evidence of the Mob's desperate attempt at clinging to the Trap youth, pulling them further away from the Cloud Rap origins in which they began. Problem being, as we see on 'Blowin' Minds' or 'Coziest,' no one from the Mob is qualified to transition into this new, uncharted territory.

Thankfully, there's hideouts on Too Cozy where their talents are apropos. A thorough A$AP cut, 'Feels So Good' slithers through the Mob's murk with a vibe that's both lingering and conniving, while 'Get The Bag' staggers through a heist with rambunctious energy from everyone. However, as was the case with Friends, Too Cozy relies heavily on the feature cuts to provide substance and diversity. That comes through handedly on the rowdy and creative 'Bahamas,' a seven rapper cut that offsets the machoism with sassy "oh's'" and "ah's" from confident background Soul singers. Lil Yachty kickstarts the track, redeeming himself after the forgettable 'Bachelor' off Friends, while Schoolboy Q inserts a tactile verse that's seemingly overlooked being sandwiched nondescriptly. Then there's 'Frat Rules,' which somehow succeeds because of Big Sean's presence. You read that right. Hit-Boy enters for production matching the shtick's of Rocky and Sean as they duel rhyme throughout. It's not a revelation, but far better than anything we saw on the mediocre I Decided. Too Cozy's ultimate feature cut though, 'Raf,' still as unfulfilling as it was in May when it originally released. Mundane and stereotypical, the lead single amounts to nothing more than a not-so-elaborate marketing stunt.

Too Cozy is segmented by three skits that act as opener, intermission, and closer, all thematically centered around Yamborghini High's intercom announcements brought to you by principal Daryl Choad, played by John C. Reilly. The juvenile humor, references to 'Bad And Boujee,' and use of Donterio Hundon, a popular Instagram user, on 'Skool Bus,' paints a clear picture of the Mob's main demographic. It's not in the least bit surprising that Too Cozy released the first week kids typically go back to school, as I can picture a litany of these deep cuts being played in the hallways byway of streaming off poor iPhone speakers. Those tracks that set their pander bar low present the worst of Too Cozy's offering, like the empty blowhard of 'Walk On Water' or the excessive vanity of 'FYBR (First Year Being Rich).' The two worst tracks however are awarded to 'Please Shut Up' and 'Byf.' Irony permeates the walls of the former, creating a palpable stench as I sing the chorus along with Key! ("Please shut up, please shut up") for an entirely different reason. The track feels seemingly unfinished, evident by Gucci Mane's paltry eight bars, half-assed as per usual. Then there's 'Byf,' which finds Rocky hilariously singing "I just wanna be your friend" in a seductive tone, further ruined by Margielaa's painful appearance.

All that's to say, much like Friends, and really anything related to the A$AP Mob, inconsistency runs the gamut. Over half a decade ago, Rocky, Ferg, and select Mob members proved the value of flow over lyricism, atmosphere over content. Now though, without rejuvenated reinvention, the well has run dry. Today's swollen Trap era welcomes the choose-your-own buffet, in that, because variety is so scarce, systematic patterns so prevailing, each individual's favorite tracks will be those that scratch a peculiar itch. Without Jaden Smith's pitch shift overkill on 'Perry Aye,' the opener merely blends into the crowd. Without 'Bahamas'' interspersed female yelpers, the track amounts to nothing more than the duds that came before. Those piques in interest only pertain to me, because, they're specific characteristics of songs, not determining factors of greatness. Therefore, removing the inquisitive ear worm component, 'Perry Aye,' 'Bahamas,' or even 'Frat Rules,' aren't remotely noteworthy. They're fun but hollow, enticing but forgettable. The artists credited in excess on 'Last Day Of Skool' struggle to find a lane not being plowed by those around them. Trap works sometimes, it doesn't work most. Too Cozy's evidence of that. It's momentary amusement without the wherewithal to be remembered.

No comments:

Post a Comment