Drake lets his OVO family shine in “Top Boy.”
5. ONE SUMMER
In “One Summer,” M Huncho sounds as unbothered as Bill Belicheck when he’s answering questions after a football game. Don’t get me wrong, M hurls out bars that are punchline-heavy and extremely powerful in this song, but the way those bars are delivered is as easygoing as it gets. It’s almost like the n***a recorded his verses on this song in an ice bucket.
Doesn’t M Huncho sound like a UK Jaden Smith?
4. BEHIND BARZ
Everyone knows that Drake is at his best when he’s on some kill-a-rapper s**t. With that being said, in “Behind Barz,” the 33-year old goes ham, reminding the world how much of a real n***a he is through a steady flow, an authentic Canadian accent, and trill lyrics.
You know what I love about this song? It’s heinous-sounding, as it features this dark instrumental, but at the same time, it has this level of fragility to it that is glaring. It’s almost like Drake wanted to let the world know he was winning the streets, but in the process, he unintentionally came across as vulnerable. Only Drake can come across as vulnerable on a song meant for the streets.
I say we remake “Shottas,” adding Drake into a bunch of the movie’s important scenes.
3. MY TOWN
“Top Boy” is a very dark project — a sound that is right up Giggs and Baka Not Nice’s alley. In “My Town,” the one song they each have on the project, they absolutely murder s**t, spitting unapologetic bars about hood territories, gang ties, stolen women, and guns that eliminate n***as.
While I f**k with the heinous bars you get by both Giggs and Baka Not Nice on this song, I think it’s the dark vibes and squeaky ass hook that catches my attention the most. (The combination makes my buzz stronger)
2. RIDING ON E
“Riding On E” starts off “Top Boy” right, to me! Not only does the track feature this dark instrumental that puts chills in the bodies of whoever listens to it, but I also thought Nafe Smallz shined on the track, balancing between this gritty spitter and fragile singer that is intent on getting to the money, stiff-arming fake n***as, and making sure street codes are followed.
I love “Elastic!” On it, AJ Tracey spits erratically and drops lyrics that are both kick-ass and bold. However, what I love about the song is that it features this chill/slightly-vibrant instrumental that encourages head-bopping and positive thoughts, despite the fact AJ is rapping semi-tenaciously over it. I love a good contradiction on a song I’m listening to!
SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN
1. RIDING ON E (4/5)
2. FREDDY (4/5)
3. HARD TO BELIEVE (3/5)
4. MY TOWN (4/5)
5. ONE SUMMER (4/5)
6. OVERSEER (4/5)
7. PROFESSOR X (3/5)
8. 100 THOUGHTS (3.5/5)
9. BILLIONS (3.5/5)
10. ELASTIC (4/5)
11. LISTEN (3/5)
12. BELLY OF THE BEAST (3.5/5)
13. VENOM (3.5/5)
14. FEELING IT (3.5/5)
15. 8 MISSED CALLS (4/5)
16. GOD’S EYES (4/5)
17. BEHIND BARZ (4/5)
“Top Boy” doesn’t feature American star-power, and that is what makes it a special project, to me. On it, you get nothing but hungry ass artists (mainly from the UK) that are hood, confident and creative. Isn’t that a great combination?
You know what I love most about this album? It has a consistent tone/vibe. From start to finish, artists either sung or rapped over instrumentals that were completely numb, which in my opinion, brought out the rawest version of each person you heard grace the mic. It also allowed each artist to truly be heard and not overshadowed.
In terms of projects with outstanding rap performances, “Top Boy” has to be on that list. I thought artists like AJ Tracey, Nafe Smallz, Avelino, Little Simz and Youngs Teflon did phenomenal jobs of blessing us with tricky flows, outstanding wordplay, clever punchlines, and strapping lyrical content. It’s almost like everyone on this soundtrack had a point to prove, and those points were proven through nothing but powerful bars.
If you are a true hip-hop fan, this soundtrack will end up being something special to you. It allows you to listen to music with a clear lens, and also allows you to understand how pure rap can be when you aren’t all-the-way on top of who you’re listening to.