Bas has been relatively quiet these last couple of years, and rightfully so, this era of hip hop tends to ignore clever rappers like himself. But Dreamville’s Scottie Pippen is back, and thankfully, he’s continued to ignore both trap beats and the urge to mumble in favor of rapping over jazzy instrumentals that you would probably hear in a grocery store. Correct, the game missed Cole’s preachy raps when he was gone, but for the fiends like myself that were hanging on to every bit of knowledge Bas was dishing out to us on his previous album (Too High To Riot), we missed him just as much.
HONORABLE MENTION: DESIGNER You get Bas’ quirkiest bars in “Designer.” First and foremost, the beat he’s served with is undeniably the best on this album, as it combines radiant vibes with both some heavy-hitting 808’s and trunk-rattling bass. Content-wise, the chubby spitter is slightly all over the place, as he switches between his risky international travels, treating women carelessly and having a fragile frame of mind in his lyrics. Rapping-wise, you get the best of many worlds from him, as he gives us tricky flows, infectious melodies and catchy hooks. Honestly, I can see some people hating this track and others f**kin’ with it; i’m with the latter.
5. BARACK OBAMA SPECIAL
On the low, Bas absolutely spazzes on this s**t! Over one of the many unorthodox instrumentals you will hear on this album, he delivers somewhat of an acceptance speech in which he discusses the many trials and tribulations that has come with his recent successes. Initially, the frizzy haired rapper tries to explain to the listeners that he hasn’t let his success change him much, rapping with this cocky demeanor and calling out the phony individuals around him. but he eventually cracks, ultimately brooding about dealing with stress alone, not trusting the individuals around him and feeling stuck in life. Overall, the track shows the thin line between happiness and frustration, and the way Bas was able to mesh the two feelings together was interestingly seamless.
Give some time for “Icarus” to really get started, and trust me, you will love it! The four minute and twenty two second track starts off a bit convoluted, featuring this fractured instrumental and soulful harmonizing between Bas and Ari Lennox. But once the actual beat drops, you get nothing but wisdom-filled bars from our featured artist, as he unapologetically describes the hate he sees around him, the pressure he feels to be great, and his willingness to find happiness while experiencing fame. The style Bas raps with throughout is aggressive, as he does his best to make everything else around him on the song feel the rigors of living up to lofty expectations that he put on himself.
3. BOCA RATON
Two second options for their respective teams made a hit here!
Bas talks about palm trees, beaches, and expensive-ass cocktails on “Boca Raton,” right? Wrong! In the song, he talks around leaving his old chick behind in favor of some me-time. (Trust me, as a married man, I get it)
The energy that A$AP Ferg brings to “Boca Raton” is dope. I also like the fact that he actually talks about basking in the recklessness that comes with being on vacation in the song (Unlike Bas).
2. FRONT DESK
I actually like when Bas sings on records. (Remember “Black Business Owner” from his last album? That was my s**t!) He has a knack for creating infectious melodies, but at the same time, knows how to make the listener soak up whatever message he wants to deliver to you. In “Front Desk,” this is exactly what we are treated to! The instrumental to the song is soothing, but at the same time, still has some bass boomin’ elements to it. On it, Bas plays the biggest gigolo on this planet, dismissing all of his old flings like they were the part of the apple with all those f**kin’ seeds. I love our hero’s daring vocals throughout, as he does his best to bait his chicks into thinking he cares about them using his most soulful effort yet. (Why do girls always fall for that?)
This song is like a 2018 version of “Girls, Girls, Girls,” right?
Bas and J. Cole look just as homeless as one another these days, so this collaboration makes all the sense in the world.
“Tribe” feels like more of a positive version of “Boca Raton.” On it, Bas raps over this feel-good instrumental, touching on the ever-so adorable topic of a women being down for him in his journey to success. I love the erratic flow he raps with throughout, as he comes across like an overly excited child that’s trying to explain to a grown ass adult why they love a certain cartoon character.
With Cole killing so much s**t as of late, it’s pretty dope hearing him take a step back and rap over some light-hearted s**t. In his verse, he shows a bit of versatility, switching between rapping and singing about his successes and the obstacles that made it hard for him to reach them.
Doesn’t it feel like Cole blushes whenever he sees Bas in the studio.
SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN
1. ICARUS (4.5/5)
2. FRONT DESK (5/5)
3. BOCA RATON (4.5/5)
4. TRIBE (5/5)
5. BARACK OBAMA SPECIAL (4.5/5)
6. PURGE (4.5/5)
7. FRAGRANCE (3.5/5)
8. INFINITI (N/A)
9. INFINITI+2 (3/5)
10. SANUFA (4/5)
11. GREAT ONES (N/A)
12. PDA (4/5)
13. DESIGNER (4.5/5)
14. SPACESHIPS + ROCKETS (3.5/5)
This might be the first album that can fully be played at a speakeasy. It’s calm, but the raps that you get from our lead guy is tougher than an Urban Meyer press conference. More specifically, you get the definition of a dude that challenges himself to rap over unorthodox beats and touch on topics that simply don’t fall in line with what the rest of the hip hop world is interested in. Maybe that’s why Bas opened the album out saying he doesn’t f**k with most of the clowns in the game…
On the real, I recommend that you listen to this album over and over again. There’s so much hidden knowledge Bas dishes out to us on it, but to obtain that knowledge, you have to be completely locked in to his raps. For example, on a song like “Barack Obama Special,” if you are half-assedly playing it on your earphones while you are shooting some hoops or something, you would think the song was a trunk-rattling banger that features Bas talking about living life luxuriously without a problem in the world. But the root of the song actually revolves around the frustration that comes with feeling like no can understand the pain that you deal with when everyone around you is gone. Hidden messages like that are sprinkled throughout this album, and Bas makes sure he puts you on a treasure hunt to find them.
I’ve always been a sucker for therapeutic instrumentals and traditional rapping styles, so for about 11 of the 14 songs on this album, I felt like I was in hip hop heaven! For the remaining three (Spaceships+ Rockets, Infiniti+2, Sanufa), I felt like Bas tried to step into a lane that I’m not really trying to hear from him. Don’t get me wrong, those songs weren’t bad, they were just a bit too H&M’y for a scruffy n***a like him. Nonetheless, I can never hate on an artist that experiments.
Much like how Ruff Ryders had actual rough riders on their team, or how everyone on Dipset was inclined to wear pink and rap with the same elementary flow that Cam rapped with, Cole’s Dreamville team seems to be taking on his personality when it comes to making pure/meaningful albums. If you ask me, it’s a formula that works, and I wouldn’t mind if it’s abused by people that are good enough to utilize it.