It is often hard to break away from what it is people have come to associate you with. Sometimes it is successfully done and done so seamlessly it scarcely looks as though anything has even really happened.
Off the top of my head I can thin of Justin Timberlake, an utterly talented young man who started his career as a boy band member. From there he becomes an amazing solo performer who has given us classics such as "Cry Me A River", "Girlfriend", "Sexy Back", and "My Love" to name a few. Then the turn came. He went so easily from great music to equally great acting that I cannot tell you where one ends and the other begins.
Kanye West must also be noted here for his perfect transformation (or rather his evolution) from simply a producer to a rapper, fashion maven, and all around innovator.
Conversely it doesn't always pan out that way.
Bow Wow is a prime example of that. In theory joining one of the biggest camps in the game (i.e. YMCMB for those who haven't been paying attention) should have offered some sort of transcendence. Alas all you see is a wannabe thug with a Napolean complex and a few so-so film roles. (It can be noted that I originally wanted to include Omarian in this but he has been pretty consistent in his changes, movies notwithstanding. Moreover, his signing to MMG may have saved his career. Plus I love his song "MIA")
This brings to another producer attempting to turn rapper, Hit-Boy. This man's catalogue is a who's who of amazing tracks, some of the more recent tracks include "Clique" from the G.O.O.D. Music album Cruel Summer, "Backstreet Freestyle" from Kendrick Lamar's debut album good kid, m.A.A.d city, and "Niggas In Paris" from the Jay-Z and Kanye West's Watch The Throne. But he has thrown his hat into the ring and given us his first mixtape HITstory.
As a not easily impressed person I took the album with a grain of salt. I listened through and slowly began to appreciate the sounds. Hit-Boy has given us an amazing first effort here. Each track is well written and equally well produced.
"Brake Lights" started my love affair of sorts with the project. It gives me an introspective sort of feel, which I love. The bass of the beat here isn't overwhelming but more a punctuation to the verses and the hook. The track speaks how life is moving a bit too fast for him and his seeking the 'brake lights'. Something here feels personal and rather transparent. It's a jam to be sure.
"She Belongs To The City" is another of those piano heavy tracks to which I'm usually pulled towards. I would almost be inclined to call this a love song but for the words. As best as I can decipher this track is about a groupie that he may have fallen in love with. The emotions of it are perfectly displayed on this one. Plus the story can also be relatable to anyone who has wanted someone who doesn't want you as much as you want them.
"Busta Ass Niggas" appeals to me because it has heavy Texas swang influences to it. Featured on the track are Chip Tha Ripper and the always incomparable Bun B. Hit-Boy raps on this track as though he is fully confident in his being here among established hip-hop artists. Each rhyme plays as a counterpiont and a compliment to the verse after it (and before it).
"WyW" was a bit of a surprise to me in the fact that I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. It has a smooth jazz vibe to it. I'm a fan of that. John Legend's amazing voice on the hook didn't hurt either. When I hear this song I feel as though I should be smoking something, be it hookah or more on the illegal side. Its vibe has that sudden effect on you.
Hit-Boy has begun his transformation into a pretty good rapper but I will reserve any judgment until I hear a debut album. But as for this mixtape, he has done something wonderful here.
Lucius Black for Royalty Magazine
Lucius Black for Royalty Magazine