Let it be known that I enjoy rappers who have “bars.” I pride myself on being a person who can drop a (mostly) hot sixteen myself. But, bars aren’t everything. With LOS, listeners expect bar upon bar, and they get such. And they usually get this in a way that’s somewhat outside the norm. But, too many “bars” ultimately results in an artist losing the ability to make a cohesive project. Then they start panicking and “going mainstream” to compensate.
Tuesday saw the release of KING LOS’ “debut album” GOD, MONEY, WAR. The production and guest list would suggest “oh, shit, LOS is trying to be just like everyone else.” The overall vibe of this album is somewhere between a “wannabe” TPAB and a Baltimore-tinged version of Born Sinner. It’s experimental in the sense that it’s not exactly straight-up “#BARS rap.” I mean, “Ghetto Boy” features strained guitars over boombap drums and sparse pianos and “Black Blood” feels more like an OutKast-meets-Kendrick song produced by Miguel.
We’re going to get a lot of these albums that attempt to mimic TPAB’s successes (and failures). It’s not bad, since TPAB is a great album and a decent think-piece. However, why TPAB worked for Kendrick and doesn’t usually work for others is that Kendrick has diverse approaches. LOS is too, for the most part, on this project. However, his beat selection falls flat on songs that could’ve used something a bit more…heartfelt. “Lil’ Black Boy,” for me, is an example of this. Thoughts on the plight of the black male, with comparisons to Lucious Lyon, fatherhood/absent fathers, and DMX are lost over a sparse, synthy production.
I’ll probably get some “hate.” I mean, he’s from my hometown. And in the DMV, there’s always some bullshit about “crabs-in-the-barrel.” But, GMW is just alright. Sorry.
Final Verdict: Steam It and Wait For The “Proper” Album