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Matt Ox - OX Music Album Reviews

Strip away the cringe threats and drip talk and what’s left is a glorified beat tape that indicates that, artistically, Matt Ox has a ways to go to discover his sound.

Matt Ox looks like a kid on the cusp of a growth spurt who stars in modern Nickelodeon sitcoms. His well-documented journey to stardom proves that he’s lived a cozy life, so the fact that his music portrays the exact opposite captivates a certain sect of rap fandom. His dark trap music is at odds with his appearance and age, so it’s risque in a way that hipsters refraining from drinking Starbucks is. His new album, OX, relies on the listener being familiar with who he is and what he represents to find the novelty within it. Strip away the cringe threats and drip talk and what’s left is a glorified beat tape that indicates that, artistically, Matt Ox has a ways to go to discover his sound, and, more importantly, what he really has to say.

OX is a luxury car with no engine. The kid’s only 13 years old and sounds like Playboi Carti doing an impression of Seth MacFarlane who’s doing an impression of Playboi Carti. His raps are delivered with a sneering gusto that makes them sound comical at times—a complete change from his viral hit “Overwhelming” and “Michael Myers” before it. While he’s a bit better at crafting stellar hook that mixes his older, traditional rap style with the new sneering one, a majority of the album sounds like he binged Die Lit overnight and tried to recreate it immediately.

For what it’s worth, OX makes a stellar first impression with its glossy collection of atmospheric beats. The core of producers here give Ox trap beats that sound gaudily congested, even if they wouldn’t sound as unique if someone older tackled them instead. But the idea of a clean-cut, non-cursing, pre-pubescent teen rapping through his nose while thunderous bass rumbles in the background make these beats hit harder than they ordinarily would. As the album simmers in a way that takes a few listens to really sink in, once unique beats begin to blend together. Album opener “Trident” sneaks with its tip-toeing bassline. “Ride Around,” a few tracks later, feels largely the same. “Ya Dig” is a tad murkier yet still in the same realm.

TrapMoneyBenny, the producer responsible for the meat and bones of Drake’s “In My Feelings,” brings a frosty chill to the album with “Pull Up.” The album’s magnetic centerpiece was co-produced by Oogie Mane, Ox’s in-house Working on Dying collective producer who was also responsible for Drake’s “I’m Upset.” It’s politely nostalgic with those wind chimes that make early ’90s R&B so elegant. When the smothering 808s come in, the track becomes a soothing synthesis of the two producer’s greatest qualities—Benny’s ear for unique melodies and Oogie’s ability to submerge the listener beneath a wave of bass without drowning them—and Matt Ox carries it with relative ease. The kid’s got style.

The album at-large remains paper thin, though. Matt Ox the idea is entertaining, but the actual quality of the rap being presented is mediocre. It’s Slim Jesus all over again. A luxe palette of gorgeous instrumentals and a rather striking imitation of Playboi Carti undoubtedly sound good, but we don't learn anything about Matt Ox over the course of the album. There’s a certain kind of novelty in what’s being packaged here: a suburban, good-natured kid as a criminal kingpin. Without biting into the absurdity of this idea, the album just isn’t odd enough, or weird enough, to be anything more than a suburban kid putting his own dark spin on contemporary trap.

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