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Slimmy B - Feel My Pain EP Music Album Reviews

Post-breakout solo releases are supposed to be this-is-my-time proclamations, but the SOB x RBE member’s project feels engineered to bring out his pathos.

On SOB x RBE’s second full-length, Gangin, the Vallejo boys tasked themselves with repping decades of Bay Area’s sonic history in addition to displaying the star potential of their free-flowing group chemistry. While avoiding clutter, Gangin also delivered a group with four distinct personalities: Lul G, the young tough with the pipsqueak-ish voice; DaBoii, who taunts in a barking sneer; Yhung T.O., the sing-song stylist; and Slimmy B, a bluesman with the group’s most conversational delivery. T.O.’s pop-ready versatility makes him a star, but when he’s not countering his groupmate’s melodies with his plainspoken presence, Slimmy B cuts a captivating figure on his own. The most obvious showcase is his Gangin solo cut, “God,” which is less about salvation than it is about the pain (and small shimmerings of hope, like his son) underlying his worldview. “Niggas dyin’ everyday, who the fuck the shit fun to?” Slimmy asks the listener. Even in the spotlight, he can’t escape himself.

Slimmy B’s latest solo project, the seven-track Feel My Pain, shares this ruminative space right down to its cover, a black-and-white image of him brooding with his hoodie over his face. While trauma speckled Gangin’s boasts, Feel My Pain pulls it toward the center. “Call On” arrives midpoint and features Slimmy B in an uninterrupted confessional, mourning deceased kin and remembering a suicide attempt. The bleakness is only briefly allayed with minor hopes like buying a Bentley coupe and promising his girlfriend a family.

Ideally, post-breakout solo releases are supposed to be outward, this-is-my-time proclamations: You’ve worked to be able to talk your shit, after all. But the album feels engineered to bring out the pathos in Slimmy B’s verses. For one, the excited bounce that threads through his prior solo effort Problem Child is traded in for sparser, more contained production. It’s a big stylistic change even from Gangin; the busy ’80s freestyle beat that backs “Carpoolin’” doesn’t fit within Feel My Pain’s negative space.

While the kinetic energy of his prior work is missed, Feel My Pain does make for a cathartic 18 minutes within Slimmy B’s headspace. There’s an urgency to the wobbly way his consonants spring off the mournful bass lines, particularly on the paranoid “Don’t Love Me.” Slimmy recalls the tears falling and pleading with God as he watched his man’s casket lower, before pledging to kill the murderer (“He gon’ die that’s on my kid”). It’s sorrow-filled imagery made even more heartbreaking by the bleating synths backing his narrative. “Ride 4 Me” is Feel My Pain’s standard AutoTune anthem, but even that holds a deeper significance; romantic platitudes like “You the one I put my trust in” feel binding when you’re this familiar to mortality.

Slimmy B doesn’t spend the entirety of Feel My Pain in a dour mood: He’s back on his bullshit on the final two tracks, playing “NBA 2K18” mid-coitus on “Free Theze” and drops more gun talk while marveling at how “these damn hundreds make a nigga pants sag” in the spry album closer “Like I Do.” The latter works more as a coda than a standalone because it’s told from the perspective of someone who’s survived. That link between excess and escape has been one SOB x RBE’s central dynamics, and it compels from Slimmy’s solo lens.

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