Sunday, February 4, 2018

Cyhi The Prynce - No Dope On Sundays Review

Cyhi The Prynce's career as a musician is curious, to say the least. Kanye West, in his normal three-ring circus state, signed him to G.O.O.D. Music back in 2009, despite the Southern-born emcee releasing no more than two, street-delivered mixtapes. One year he was virtually unknown, the next he was featured alongside West on the most important album of the current decade (My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy). Expectations were surely high, about as high as Prynce's opportunity. And then, mediocre mixtapes, nine in total, began to fall. Not the type of content you'd expect from a high-profile label trying to demand attention for their newcomers. Years later and Prynce's name has become all-but Hip-Hop folklore, an elusive figure whose continued presence on G.O.O.D. Music baffles many in the community. Sure enough, with limited warning and even scarcer marketing tactics, No Dope On Sundays released. An official debut, eight years in the making. Does it live up to whatever stored away hype was left? That's entirely dependent on your assumptions of Prynce. Expecting a more well-rounded version of Big Sean? Then No Dope On Sundays will come as a pleasant surprise. Comparing the emcee with fellow former dope pusher Pusha T? Prepare to be disappointed. In all other instances, Prynce's debut album struggles to be anything more than average.

The mainstream Hip-Hop community tends to do a decent job at separating the wheat from the chaff, i.e. celebrating rappers who provide entertainment, disowning those without a personality. Big Sean excluded. There's a reason why multiple A-list features, including Kanye West, 2 Chainz, Schoolboy Q, and Travis Scott, along with the intrigue of a debut eight years in the making, failed to muster any sort of interest with fans. Cyhi The Prynce does not have a marketable identity. He's a rapper for rapper's sake, abiding by the long-held traditions in the genre like dope dealing, braggadocio, and objectifying women, along with the customary spice of pseudo-intellectual ramblings. In other words, an hour and 14 minutes spent with this man as your voice of reason is far, far too long. That becomes evident by glancing at the tracklist, one which features 15 tracks, only two of which are shorter than four minutes. These are beefy songs with lots of promise, and admittedly, a whole lot of heart thrown in. However, it takes half the total duration before we finally arrive at relatively creative, and successful, ideas. That can be seen on the three-track run of 'Looking For Love,' 'Nu Africa,' and 'Free.' The former flourishes by way of the beat, reminiscent of The Social Experiment's Juke, while 'Free' finds Prynce slyly tip-toeing around a sample with conscious lyrics that don't overbear. 'Nu Africa' is a wildly rambunctious combination of both, even if it feels heavily inspired by Kanye and Jay-Z's Watch The Throne era.

Speaking of which, many tracks here are clearly dated, not a surprise given the tremendous delays this album went through. Prynce is originally from the south, but there's no way you'd hear that here, as Trap, alongside the Southern Hip-Hop revivalism, is notably absent. Beyond that though, many tracks struggle to identify themselves as being anything more than just Hip-Hop. The pitiful four-track run from 'Murda' to 'Dat Side,' which conspicuously mimics Schoolboy Q's 'That Part' in watered down form, contributes nothing to No Dope On Sundays other than beefing up the already-bloated tracklist. And while some of the first few tracks feel noteworthy, like the Pusha T-assisted title track or 'Get Yo Money' and its purgative beat, an equal selection of others, like 'Trick Me' or 'Amen,' fail to offer something Hip-Hop hasn't already pushed past. As for Prynce himself, while he certainly has a lot to say, he's never on the cusp of anything groundbreaking, both for the genre and for whatever American movement he'd reference. The lyricism is corny and obtuse, as countless one-liners that could abet a moan come and go. He's not as bad as Big Sean at his worst, but the similarities are clearly there. In the late 2000's, this style might've gotten a pass. In 2017, rappers have advanced far beyond that, either in terms of lyricism or flow, to provide any value to Prynce who's clearly trailing behind. Therefore, the anticipation of No Dope On Sundays is muted. It's an average album. With today's mass consumption, average is as good as dead.


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