It’s unfortunate that nowadays, that I have to second guess before I start listening to a rapper from Maybach Music Group, because their sound is relatively the same, and they’re not really rapping about anything, although that’s what’s been working for them thus far and why they’re so popular (both in a positive & negative way). Pre-MMG artists have always been better before they signed. Wale and Meek Mill are prime examples because Wale has solidifying his reputation in a strong way by going out and being creative in a sense. Meek Mill was spitting ‘flames’ with his growing popularity (if you get the pun, you’re cool), and then with Stalley & Rockie Fresh? Well, that hasn’t been quite determined as of yet, because they’re still in their development stages. But, from what I’ve heard with Rockie Fresh (Driving 88 & Otherside), this isn’t much of a step back in terms of his artistic potential. I can only hope that he doesn’t stray too far off course on the ‘highway’ to success.
If you’ve heard Driving 88, then you’d be happy with the fact that he keeps that same futuristic style in this mixtape, which was highly anticipated. Having a nomination for XXL’s Freshmen List and signing to MMG, he has the potential to take the light and lead from the front on the label (wishful thinking, but who knows). Not everything has to be lyrical for it to be good music, because not every rapper has lyrical ability, but they can make good songs – vividly explains why MMG is popular, yet again. Production is what drove Rockie’s prior mixtapes, and it’s no different on this one. Starting with The Future, you can hear that ‘DJ Khaled – MMG’ style that we’ve been used to for a while (throw in some Autotune in there), but this is like the ‘coming out’ song that every new artist has that explains who they were, how things were, and where they’re at now. This would be the song.
The Lights had me agitated – Autotune overuse will be the death of Hip Hop as we know it, but according to most people, it’s already dead; I disagree. I get the message behind the song, because it’s about following the path to success and the lights guide you to where you’re going, sort of like street lights on the highway or main road to help you on your travels; simple, yet effective. Just, kill the Autotune.
Stripper song alert – Thick Bitch would be it. Nothing special about it, but a lot of people like this type (that should die down soon enough) to get the party going. The song that actually got me to start liking this mixtape a little bit more was Superman OG, because it sounded like it was produced by Araabmuzik (it’s not), and although Rockie wasn’t saying much aside from the fact that he’s on the ‘money team’, the flow suited the beat, so it was listenable to a higher degree than the other songs already.
The Warnings takes a stab at himself in terms of why he chose to do what he did, with regards to signing to Maybach Music and the people who didn’t think that it was a smart idea. ‘I just followed my intuition, never paid that tuition’ is the line that stuck out for me, because when it comes to having a goal and wanting to be something aside from going to school to be like everyone else, you take a chance and see where it goes for you. School isn’t for everyone, so he took the route that he did, and here we are. He has confidence, but he has a while to go with further development, and hopefully MMG can help him get better, but we’ve all seen what happened with the other artists.
Life Long is easily the best song on this mixtape already, and probably is overall. Rick Ross is known for his simple flow, but is able to translate it with dynamic verbosity. It’s at this point where you say to yourself (or at least I said to myself) ‘finally starting to get better’. While we wait for Victory Lap, we’ll have to deal with only features by Nipsey Hussle, and when he collaborates with MMG, it’s pretty dope (listen to Fountain of Youth if you don’t believe me). Again, the production is greatly similar to what’s floating around now, but it was used well on this track. It gave me hope for the rest of the mixtape.
Dedicated to the main girl who’s down for everything and anything, Hold Me Down, is the song for your main lady, who isn’t like the rest of these basic girls (although the term ‘bad bitch’ is pretty basic already, but that’s just me). Barrel of a Gun picks it up where Life Long left off, and reiterates the importance of his decision to make music. The metaphor of the song is that you have to take your shot, and you only get one, so make it count. That could be used as a sports metaphor (as we’ve always heard it), so this is a cool song, because there is a positive emphasis that drives it.
The first time I heard I’m Wit It, I hated it – and that hasn’t changed. It’s catchy, but it has a Meek Mill influence to it, plus Danny Brown had a track out with the same name and although subject matter is different, the hooks were similar. I don’t care for this that much. Roll Up Right Now with an appearance from Currensy is a dope track. Great production and it may sound weird, but when rappers metaphorically address their music as a drug, it’s cool in my eyes. Currensy fit on this track because he’s one that is heavy on the muscle cars and the lavish lifestyle approach, backed by a relaxed flow with these similar beats in his recent work, so it all works out.
Ride Slow is no joke when it comes to the screwed up style that slows down the track, but even with the all Autotune everything provided with the track, I actually like it because it works. Usually in cases like this, I would say “oh, well he’s trying to do his best Future impression”, and I’m pretty sure people are saying that as they listen to it, but I’d rather listen to this than Future, to be completely honest. The track gives you the feeling that he’s under the influence while riding down the highway (don’t be under the influence and drive, folks, use common sense).
Skipping over to Nobody, it stood out because of its Dubstep influence, and it’s not a direction that MMG artists go with their music, but Rockie’s past music has had influence of different genres in his music, so it’s good to see that he has a creative hand in his work, which is important in an artist’s progression. Never mind the lyrics; the production, in its own cinematic nature was the highlight of it all, and it’s mainly the reason why I listened to this song the whole way through in the first place.
The mixtape ends on a good note with Something Special, because he goes back into a bit of his personal history and again emphasizes his reasoning of doing what he does. This is what I like, because coming from a new artist, and you have a bigger platform, rather than hearing the same repetitive stuff for 40-50 minutes, you’d want to hear the artist in their true state. He addresses the fact that this is just the start for him, and although old fans may not like it and new fans may not accept it, it’s just who he is. That’s real, and that’s something you have to respect.
In comparison to Driving 88, this is a different approach that has sounds for the old and new fans alike, but for me personally, it was too much of a rollercoaster when it came to maintaining the listenable consistency of the project as a whole. I like the fact that he still stuck with his creative vision, but when it dips from good song to not-so-good song repeatedly, a lot of people would rather not listen to it as a whole. Would I recommend listening to it? If you’re looking for something new and you’re an MMG fan, sure. There’s still a story being told, but the problem for me is that there’s so much filler, that you get lost in why you were listening to it in the first place. The production team did a great job, because there were songs that I liked and they fit, but on some songs, Rockie didn’t fit. If there were more songs on this that were like: Life Long, Barrel of a Gun, Ride Slow, and Something Special, I probably would have liked it better. I’m just personally tired of the bad bitches and blowing stacks and racks as repetitive rap. Mind you, that’s how he came into this, so it’s not like this is anything new. Being from Chicago, we all know what that atmosphere is like and we know the direction he could have taken (look at GBE), but he stayed creative, he stayed in his own lane, and he drove with it. Let’s see how far it’ll take him. It’s not a terrible start, but at least he’s headed in a good direction. Take a listen; if you feel like downloading, go ahead, but this is just my opinion with my review, but for now
That’s My Word & It STiXX