Soulja Boy - King Soulja 8 (Review)

Martin_Canine
SOULJA BOY
King Soulja 8
★★★☆☆

As most people who have talked to me about hip hop or music in general probably know, I was never a big fan of Soulja Boy, or as he used to call himself for some time, Soulja Boy Tellem. I repeatedly named his first two albums as a prime example of hip hop that doesn’t work, and also as the reason why I think that many rappers with outstandingly negative reception are overhated. This is mostly because many rappers are frowned upon for one small aspect, like repetitive lyrics or topics, or the sound of their voice, while actually being able to deliver a good technique or are even creative and entertaining. For example: in order to convince people that Lil Wayne is actually a decent rapper, which he is, you just need to play Trigger Finger, a collaboration song between him and Soulja Boy. Once the latter’s verse kicks in, you’ll notice on what levels Wayne is actually good at. Once the flow, tempo, vocabulary, word play, etc. that was there when Wayne was on the mic is suddenly gone, you’ll realize what he could do that Soulja Boy couldn’t.

I didn’t hate him though. I just disliked the music he made, because it didn’t have any appeal to me. The flow was weak - it was slow and often insecure on top; often the final two or three syllables were off-beat because of an overlong pronunciation of the line’s mid-section. The lyrics were cheesy and unintentionally funny (the premises of Yahhh! and Report Card are some of the most bizarre I have ever heard), and he often recycled the same lines in many songs. His productions weren’t good either - it’s never a good sign when you can clearly hear all the individual tracks when they don’t blend into one instrumental (to be fair, he’s at the same level as Rizbo, who produced the first couple of Kollegah’s albums before the Selfmade Records label could afford really good producers).

But when I give such a negative review of an artist's work, it’s only fair to follow their further discography, and see if they start evolving, and in Soulja Boy’s case he definitely did. The music on King Soulja 8 is not dramatically worse than that of other rappers that are currently trending, and in some ways, he even puts more effort into it than bigger names. The tape includes 21 full songs and lasts for over an hour, which became rare in times when it’s become common for full studio albums to clock in at 20 to 29 minutes. Throughout most of the duration, DeAndre Way, which is his actual name, gives solid rapping performances with a flow that’s actually pretty damn fast for the trap subgenre, especially considering his past efforts, and is more often than not in time with the beats. He uses surprisingly many words per song, and usually only the choruses excessively repeat lines. Said hooks are where the development shows best: he now manages to not simply mumble them down but actually create a tiny little earworm out of them. There’s not much depth to expect from the lyrics, usually they consist of the same old hip hop formula without all too much creativity or imaginative ideas, but they definitely don’t come across as awkward. The instrumentals, which he didn’t produce himself this time, are fairly solid trap beats that don’t vary much but also don’t fail to set the tone. It made me reconsider if perhaps this potential has always been there, and if maybe I just didn’t see it. And after listening to his debut album again, souljaboytellem.com, which I rated 1 out of 5 stars in my review on a German website, I can say: no, it wasn’t. He really improved that much. And in his constant form, his rapping is far from being this bad. Not all too exciting, but not bad.

While much of the album is at a constantly average quality, there are a few highlights and low points. Who Is You is a true banger with a heavy beat that will sure get trap lovers to let their braids dance. The way too short Balenciaga Backpack is a near perfect genre song that I would have liked to hear for a bit longer and that would make great fuel for moshers. And also Servin’ the Fiends is great. His vocals have this blissfully eerie tone that works perfect with the surreal, galactic instrumental. It’s unfortunately followed by the album’s weakest song, Other Hand, which could have been taken from his earlier records. It’s loud singsang with little feeling and a weird beat. After two tracks, Bust Down also feels a bit too much with deep pitched vocals and a use of Autotune that feels too much, and too monotonous.

But all in all, this is not anymore the man who confirms fifty times that she indeed got a donk. King Soulja 8 is an acceptable and usually decent trap record that doesn’t stand out of the mass of other albums and tapes of the genre that have been released all around the globe in the last couple of years, not negatively and unfortunately not positively. But hey, with a few beats that are more unique, some distinctive trademarks in his flow and a few clever lines here and there, this could work out well in the future. It’s a start, and he can build up on this sound.

Comments

Soulja boy still makes music?
Huh. - Not_A_Weeaboo

He actually released two albums this year. Not sure if I'll review the other one too. - Martin_Canine

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