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Shy Glizzy - Fully Loaded Music Album Reviews

The D.C. native takes a chip on his shoulder into the catchiest music of his career. In every Glizzy rap boast, you can hear in his voice all that was sacrificed to achieve it.

Shy Glizzy enthusiastically (and formally) introduced himself to the world outside the nation’s capital on GoldLink’s unlikely 2016 smash “Crew.” His show-stealing verse, performed with a carefree springiness, seemed to be the moment he’d been waiting for, the bridge he constantly searched for in his verses from street soldier to celebrity rap phenom. A platinum plaque and a Grammy nomination later and Glizzy is still seeking that breakthrough.

In the opening seconds of Fully Loaded, his sweeping debut album, he reaffirms that he is still being overlooked, and toward the end, he’s still in his hood. “They think I made it out, bitch, I ain’t famous,” he snaps on “Don’t Talk to Strangers.” “Just came from my cousin’s house, still eating ramens.” The album finds the D.C. native taking his snub in stride and turning a chip on his shoulder into the catchiest music of his career. Shy Glizzy zeroes in on what makes his songs so captivating: their balance. His war stories are recalled from the lap of luxury, but he’s never more than a few blocks away from the action.

Of course, that doesn’t mean these songs don’t grapple with shootouts and the toll violence takes on one’s mental health. The best Glizzy songs always do. These are tales of a hustler whose triumphs were born from lessons learned through struggle. And now that the struggle is reaping rewards, he has secured a better future for his next generation. “Damn look at me, I blowed up, I done had a fuckin’ son/He’s a trust fund baby, he don’t gotta hold a gun,” he raps on “Gimme A Hit.” It’s a redistribution of power—trap babies ending a cycle of poverty and violence by leaving their kids a nest egg—but at what cost? In every Glizzy rap boast, you can hear in his voice all that was sacrificed to achieve it; his unshakable resolve is occasionally betrayed by his bittersweet tone. He remembers those nights trappin’ hard, when he had to rob, when he used to starve. But those same experiences give breadth to his remarkable trap sagas. As he puts it: “I’m a real fuckin’ trapper and I carry that shit with pride.”

Glizzy raps about pain and promise through a taut whine that can flatten out or float away. His flows are easygoing but deliberate in where and how they move. He can convey profound grief and extreme comfort over the course of only a few bars. Raps about swimming in newfound wealth slot in almost seamlessly with vows to rain down vengeance upon killers who’ve taken close friends from him. He relishes the numbing power of ice (“Diamonds”) and the security his gun affords him (“Rich Shooters”), but he is never truly at ease and his relentless pursuit of relief amid chaos is tension-filled and stirring.

His last mixtape, 2017’s Quiet Storm, an unofficial homage to DC DJ Melvin Lindsey’s pacifying R&B radio format, shifted away from the exhilarated energy of his “Crew” verse and into a hushed trap style of soft synths and eased melodies. While Fully Loaded does deepen that sound in spots, on songs like “Mafia” and “Live Up to the Hype,” Glizzy also drifts out into NBA YoungBoy’s country rap blues (“Where We Come From”) and spaced-out 808 Mafia-esque chimes (“Super Freak”). With “Do You Understand?,” a team-up with Gunna and Tory Lanez, he delivers a pop rap bauble that is more pleasing to the ear than large swathes of what has dominated Top 40 radio this year. Throughout Fully Loaded, Shy Glizzy once again turns his underdog story into a triumph.

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