Soulja Boy, ‘Life After Fame’ – Mixtape Review
Things have changed in hip-hop since Soulja Boy entered the game back in 2007, with his hit 'Crank That.'
Six years ago, mainstream rap fans weren't overly concerned with lyrical skills, a tight flow or rappers having different subject matter. Sure, there were artists at that time who had hit records with strong lyrical content -- like Jay Z's 'Roc Boys' and Andre 3000's verse on UGK's 'Int'l Players Anthem,' but for the most part, it was OK for folks like Soulja Boy to put out music that was more style than lyrical substance.
Today, things have changed a bit. For the past few years, folks like Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Kendrick Lamar and J.Cole have made it harder for non-lyrical rappers to get shine. And if you want proof, just look at the rappers who owned the Billboard charts six or seven years ago, and look who owns the charts now. Guys like Kendrick Lamar are practically the kings of rap today and around 2007, that might not have been the case.
So it seems that Soulja Boy really has his work cut out for him in 2013's more lyrical hip-hop world and with his new mixtape, 'Life After Fame,' he shows fans just how he measures up.
Most of 'Life After Fame' is usual Soulja Boy material -- heavy on the keyboard driven beats and light on the tricky wordplay. But he does have his moments when you can tell he's trying to be more lyrical.
Like on 'Dope Freestyle,' where he tells competitors how he'll treat them if he's ever tested. 'Kill 'em, drill 'em, steel them / Cash them, decaying them, slay them / Soulja Boy Tell 'Em all dayin' them,' he spits.
Again, it's clear to see when Soulja is putting forth more effort in his rhymes. It's as if he's trying to keep critics from saying he's too lyrically simple.
But it's doubtful that approach will work, especially because of songs like the title track, where Soulja spits an incredibly lazy flow. And it's just not the lyrics where he sometimes sounds uninspired; it's some of the hooks too. Throughout the mixtape, whatever the title of a song is, Soulja will repeat that word over and over as a chorus, using very little effort to create something memorable.
And often times, Soulja will use the same cadence in his delivery throughout the entire song, and with most of the tracks being slow to mid tempo, his flow can get really repetitive.
But hey, a hip-hop song certainly doesn't have to be lyrical to be good and if a rapper has enough personality and charisma in the booth, he can usually spit whatever he wants and it'll work.
This is the case on at least half of the material here. Like on the cut 'Birds Flockin,' where Soulja spits over hypnotic chimes that work well. Or on 'Get Down,' where a catchy voice sample is used to give the song a lot of head-nodding bounce.
There are no features on 'Life After Fame' and there aren't any production credits either, but more than likely the young Atlanta rapper either produced many of the tracks or had a hand in putting them together, because he's been known to be quite skilled behind the boards.
Most of the tracks on the 19-song mixtape are comprised of simple keyboard riffs, so think Swizz Beatz back in his early Ruff Ryders days when he usually stayed confined to two or three keys on the keyboard. Soulja Boy takes more or less the same approach but obviously has a more updated sound, due to advances in technology and equipment.
So the questions is, is 'Life After Fame' worth downloading?
The answer is yes for those who always liked Soulja Boy's simplistic rhymes over nice beats, but no for those who prefer more lyrical effort. But anyone who complains about 'Life After Fame' probably wasn't a Soulja Boy fan to begin with, because it's not like the guy ever claimed to be Rakim or anything.
In fact, he just claimed to be a kid from Atlanta who likes to make music and by that standard, Soulja Boy should be judged. He shouldn't be judged under the same criteria as rappers who are lyrically trying to impress you. That would be wrong and unfair.
So all and all, 'Life After Fame' is pretty much what you'd expect a Soulja Boy mixtape to sound like, which means you shouldn't be surprised by his usual simplistic approach.
Listen to Soulja Boy's 'Life After Fame' Mixtape