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YG - 4REAL 4REAL Music Album Reviews

YG pays heartfelt tribute to the late Nipsey Hussle on his latest while still reserving plenty of vitriol for his favorite targets: broke dudes, snitches, broke dudes who also snitch.
In 2015, YG survived a shooting at a Los Angeles studio. His resulting paranoia birthed 2016’s belligerent Still Brazy, and the effects lingered through his last album, 2018’s chest-thumping Stay Dangerous. “I’m the man, bitch, I walk ‘round like I’m bulletproof,” he rapped, sounding like a man possessed. After surviving an attempt on his life, in what he believed to be a set up, his message was clear: He wasn’t going to be caught with his guard down again.

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Fetty Wap - Bruce Wayne Music Album Reviews

Fetty Wap - Bruce Wayne Music Album Reviews
The 28-minute EP continues Fetty Wap’s steady decline from promising trap balladeer to one-dimensional chant rapper.

Fetty Wap broke through doing pop rap things only Eminem and Lil Wayne had done, but now he only ever makes headlines when trading barbs with mayoral candidates in his hometown, or when drag racing his Mercedes CLS AMG drunk on a suspended license, or when people are facetiously petitioning to have him perform “Trap Queen” at Nancy Reagan’s funeral. His new mixtape, Bruce Wayne, is an attempt to change the narrative.

In the intro, scanning a radio dial produces nothing but his biggest songs, before segueing into Wayne’s “So Different”—the implication being he’s still making hits. The tape, named after Batman’s absurdly rich business-inheriting alter ego, aims to draw a flimsy parallel between Fetty and a billionaire crime-fighting superhero: Like Wayne, he suggests, he uses his power and status to give back to his community. (It’s worth noting that Wayne also poses as a superficial playboy as a cover for his late-night heroics.)

“I am Bruce Wayne, I’ve done a lot for people,” Fetty told Complex. “It’s not about bragging, but inspiring people to always give back.” The mixtape, released on his birthday and dedicated to his late grandparents Bishop Willie Lee Maxwell and James Eugene Hagans, is often exactly the opposite of what he claims—full of empty swag raps like, “A million in my bank, hunnid in my jeans, baby/I don’t mean to brag but they know it’s me, baby,” on a song literally called “Westin”—but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Its real problems are twofold and compounding: Fetty is an often lazy writer-performer who has lost command of his once stirring voice.

Though “Trap Queen” approached romance from an exciting new angle, turning an unlikely setting into the perfect space for an outpouring of affection, Fetty has never been much of a songwriter. His Pyrex sonnets and lullabies relied almost entirely on his wailing croons to convey tenderness and devotion. In the mixtapes and EPs released since 2016, he’s struggled to find the same mastery that made songs like “My Way” and “679” so potent, dipping more into barefaced raps and singing with far less zeal. Bruce Wayne continues Fetty’s steady decline from promising trap balladeer to one-dimensional chant rapper. His themes are largely the same but executed more poorly. Most of these songs have one meandering verse that goes nowhere. The hooks are way less catchy, and too often he’s prone to saying the most basic thing. Even his Batman angle is somewhat simple-minded and ineffective: “Let a nigga know, is it beef, is it beef?/Somethin’ in the air, Batman in the streets/Jordan 14s, Batman on my feet/Bitch I’m Bruce Wayne, stock’s up, come and see,” he raps on the title track. Contrary to what he claims, the market says otherwise.

In Fetty’s best moments, which, coincidentally, were also his biggest successes, he was a real ham. He sang like he was proposing in a crowded restaurant, performing not just for his lover but anyone watching. Bruce Wayne is far more muted and understated, especially on “So Different,” which slaps the “Hotline Bling” drums onto moodier synths as Fetty murmurs half-assed come-ons like “He a worker, I’ma boss now/You should know the difference.” But there are some flashes of those same garish tendencies that once made him trap’s Sisqo. The verse on “What We Do” explodes into howling, using its moaned pleas to coax a girlfriend into a threesome. “I love your face, your eyes, your style/Baby, if you with a vacay pick an island,” he warbles on “Look at Me.” There are moments where his subdued manner works, too, like the gleaming “Star Struck” or the closer “Hit Some Corners.” But for most of Bruce Wayne’s 28 minutes, there’s nothing really worth relishing. Where Fetty’s histrionic performances once demanded attention, these largely bore.

Stranger things have happened, but it’s hard to see a path back to ubiquity for Fetty Wap. It took a collab with both 6ix9ine and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie for him to even sniff the Top 40 for the first time in two years. Time has revealed him to be a flash in the pan; though more than the “one-hit wonder” he is sometimes made out to be, he burned himself out quickly and he has already maximized the utility of his only weapon. Across Bruce Wayne, on inert R&B tunes like “All for You” and “Wavy,” he tinkers with new interpretations of his old songs trying, to find something that works. His commitment is admirable, but simply listening to the tape is an act of charity.

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