Top Dawg Entertainment thrives on its shroud of mystery when it comes to pretty much anything they do. All we know is that there’s always a plan in motion, and that is authorized by Top Dawg himself. In 2016, the plan was to release 6 projects. Kendrick dropped (untitled unmastered). ScHoolboy Q dropped (Blank Face LP), Isaiah dropped (The Sun’s Tirade), and then there were 2 names that were set as John Does, while still awaiting SZA & Ab-Soul, as problematic as their waits have been to release their respective albums. Lance Skiiiwalker is a name that was only familiar in one way because of a feature on Jay Rock’s 90059 album, but we were led to believe that it was Jay Rock’s alter ego, and of course we (including myself) believed it to be true. It wasn’t until Speed came out that it was confirmed that he was the newest signee to TDE. There’s still a hint that Kembe X is the other signee, although those claims have been shot down multiple times (you’re not slick, we know the jig).
The random in all this was that Lance was dropping his album before SZA & Soul, and because no one really knows a lot about him outside of the 3 loosies that were dropped beforehand, this was really going to be a test of whether the people would mess with him or not. They did the same with SZA & Isaiah Rashad, and they have been received well, but would it be a thing that TDE could pull off successfully each time? That’s where it was going to be a challenge – a challenge that the label openly welcomes. Introvert & Extrovert have become frequently used words on social media (blame Tumblr & Twitter) because you find people more often than not are self-diagnosing themselves to box in their personalities, because it seems to be the trend to be a loner and away from people as if the world is a big and scary place. Now that’s not to shit on anyone who’s actually introverted, but I find that more people want a pity party for failure to go outside of their comfort zones to discover that they could actually interact with other humans and enjoy this thing we call life. From the get go, this album is presented as a soundtrack for those who are locked up inside, bunched with their insecurities and dark thoughts that may lead them down a dark rabbit hole that they won’t be able to climb out of.
What this album also highlights is obsession, insecurity, and Lance is in a way a creeper (which is also highlighted by some of his videos) that makes his awkwardness able to relate to for so many people who genuinely and generally can’t have functional conversations with people. Forbidden Fruit sets off the tone that would resonate throughout; it’s dark, gloomy, but it’s a setting that is entertaining with messages that can contribute to the conversation of mental health (unless that’s just me looking at it too deep). Overall, it’s a fantasy story that is riddled with tragedy, but also sewn up as a radio show, which plays into a fable-like tale.
What I enjoyed most about the music in the album came from the fact that there were constant beat changes within the song creating a completely different vibe that makes you pick just which side you like most, but they always keep you on your toes. Speed, Stockholm, Could It Be, and All Stops (although the beat just slows down for that one) are key examples of this style, and that’s what made me appreciate them when I first heard them. The fact that the subject of the album revolves around a woman that drives him to go out of his way to get her attention, it’s a scary case that women have to deal with on a day-to-day basis especially when it comes to cat-calling which could end up as stalking, which could lead to more dangerous events.
“We lay out, baby come and run away with me
Lock you up, find the key
To these adventures baby come around and see
Past the stars, through the trees
To a better living, baby come and grab a seat” – Could It Be
Yo baby let me tell you somethin’
You’re locked up in my private dungeon
Well girl you’re screamin’ inaudibly
Well I just wanna clench your soul – Stockholm
I wasn’t hip to what Stockholm Syndrome was until I looked it up since it was a running inside joke between a few friends of mine. But if you’re unaware of the definition, the latter half (when the beat switches, of course) details the grim circumstances which I found made Lance unique with his music. He also has a distinctive voice that you can’t box in for comparison, and TDE does a great job of finding these obscure and aesthetically different artists to further solidify and strengthen their brand.
Aside from the doom and gloom that may be the majority of the album, thematically, you can still groove to it, because there are killer body-roll vibes throughout. Also, if you listen to it backwards from end to beginning (like the tracklist was presented), it also plays out well because of the abrupt finish to Reality that flips it so you’re wondering if the whole mindset in the album was in a dream state.
“This girl like everybody’s watch
Obsessing shit is real
Two pennies in her pocket
Still stressin bout her still
Still stressin life’s real”
We, as people, like to live inside of our minds and conjure up scenarios and situations that lead us to believe that things are bigger than they actually are. And when the imagination roams free, it serves as an escape, although where that may lead us can be a world where it’s twisted, demeaning, and morally unjust. This is why people enjoy watching Fetish Porn or living vicariously through others to escape the realities of the world that can be very stressful. I understand it completely, and we do need a break from reality sometimes to keep us afloat with a sense of stability. How I was able to gather all of that from this album, I have no idea, but it resonated with me, whereas at first I didn’t think much of it. There’s no particular genre you can categorize it, and I like that it’s unorthodox; it’s a step away from what many are accustomed to, but it’ll be a while before people gravitate towards him for appreciation. I would definitely check this one out. But for now, this is my opinion, this is my review
That’s My Word & It STiXX