World’s Fair, ‘Bastards of the Party’ – Album Review
In April, Hot 97 radio personality Peter Rosenberg released the ‘New York Renaissance’ mixtape. The collection featured some of the Big Apple’s hottest artists – including Joey Bada$$ and Action Bronson – and a wide assortment of rising, but lesser known talent. World’s Fair was one of them.
World’s Fair is a Queens outfit consisting of Jeff Donna, Prince SAMO and Cody B. Ware, and rap group Children of the Night’s Lansky Jones, Nigel Nasty and Remy Banks. Their cut off ‘New York Renaissance’ -- ‘’96 Knicks’ -- was arguably one of the mixtape’s better songs, but at the same time it served as a synopsis of what the group is about. The song did feature a ‘90s feel, but thankfully it wasn't merely a stubborn “Bring back the Golden Age” type of throwback. What made it standout better was how it was party rap simply filtered through that aesthetic.
World’s Fair's debut album, ‘Bastards of the Party’-- their first as Fool's Gold Records artists -- is more of the same. It’s a collection of high-energy raps over great production from the likes of Detroit’s Black Noi$e, Thelonius Martin and SPVCE.
That description pretty much sums up everything that ‘Bastards of the Party’ does well. The members sound fully invested throughout most of the 13 tracks, rarely letting up the energy as if there’s a lot at stake here. The production rages from dusty drums to hazy, underground instrumentals. It feels nostalgic, but never too much to distort the group’s raw energy.
It feels like the World’s Fair members expel about the same amount of energy into 'Bastards of the Party,' which leads to the album's main flaw: personality. It’s great they’re all pulling their weight, but the combination of sometimes flawed lyrics and similar delivery makes it a bit difficult to discern who’s who. There’s no certain star to rise out of the album because of this, which is a problem because it makes what are supposed to be relatable records less memorable because it's hard to pinpoint which voice belongs to which rapper.
It’s a fatal flaw for the album, but certainly not for World’s Fair's career; they’re still rising talent after all.
The album cover isn’t just a well-done, odd perspective shot of all six of the members. It’s pretty much a blunt statement of World’s Fair's agenda, which pretty much includes the massive amounts of rabble-rousing that will be expanded on in the next couple of tracks. This opening skit displays the members aren’t the greatest bunch of guys. A member talks to a girl on the phone who tells him about a party, but advises him not to invite the other five. “They’re too wild. Last time I heard they f---ed up somebody’s party. I ain’t with all that,” the woman says over the phone. He says that he'll only show up, but snickers are heard in the background. Someone is lying.
2. ‘'96 Knicks’
This track served as an introduction to World’s Fair when it appeared on Peter Rosenberg’s ‘New York Renaissance’ mixtape earlier this year. However, it doesn’t feel redundant at all in this context. The group comes off as this grimy set of individuals throughout the album, but here, World’s Fair feels deceptively amiable. It’s a violent sort of energy the sextet displays on the track -- much like the famed ’90s Knicks-Heat rivalry -- but it doesn’t come from a malevolent place. This song is easily one of the most replayed of the album.
Children of the Night is the group Lansky Jones, Remy Banks, and Nigel Nasty formed before expanding into World’s Fair, and ‘Heathrow’ is the one song they do together under this moniker. The performances are free-flowing, but never so much so that the lyrical intent is obtuse. They want you to know their influence with lines like, “This is operation opportunity for unity / Kids think we cool like truancy,” and, “They never got high off of 8 Ball and coke in the bathroom choking / That’s the high life man.” That clean, thumping bass line that accompanies them isn’t to be ignored either.
4. ‘Sammy Sosa’
The beat feels like the sound of a graffiti-tagged A train making its way to Brooklyn in the ‘90s with no one in the cars and just flickering lights. It’s eerie, grimy and a very uncomfortable feel Black Noise injects into the tracks. World’s Fair's presence is the equivalent to what you’d get if you’d walked between the cars and you spot these young adults causing a ruckus -- paper-bagged up bottles and all.
5. ‘Get Out’
The mood of the last song only gets intensified by the swirling Oriental drums used. The lyrics only get more aggressive as well. Nasty Nigel begins by rhyming, “Running trains on your main game / This ain’t for play, play, play / She came through and she came, came.” He stresses out the end of the rhyme too as if to emphasize the sleaze.
6. ‘Nem Diggas’
The group trades in the urgency of the last two tracks for some party rhymes with an us-against-the-world mentality: “Get a deal? F--- a deal, n---- start a brand.” They floss over this dusted boom bap beat that’s bare enough to allow the members to fit effortlessly into the track. This illuminates a problem, too. They blend so well that at times it’s hard to differentiate the individuals.
It’s a switch up from the more nocturnal mood of the previous tracks. It feels like more of a summer song with its slowed down, but steady percussion and twinkling keys. The hook is easily quotable as well: “Thinking about heaven, but I’m living through hell to get by / I just want to puff la until I’m high / In a foreign country counting knots of foreign money.” The added sing-song makes this the most accessible track of the album.
The lone single performance is the definite oddball on ‘Bastards of the Party.’ It features DJ THOTH offering sensual pieces of poetry over dreamy production. Maybe it’s an attempt to seem more accessible to another audience, show the versatility or just switch things up. Either way, the strict rap demographic is going to be scratching their heads at this one.
9. ‘Wave Ride’
Black Noise reintroduces the ‘90s aura after the short break, but World’s Fair doesn’t quite seem ready to get back into rhyming for rhyme’s sake as they focus on the opposite sex on this song. The verses are decent enough, but ultimately it’s the sing-song hook that makes the vibe that much more alluring. World’s Fair don’t focus too much on hooks on this project, which makes sense if they don’t want to alienate the backpacker fanbase. But if they want to start experimenting a little bit more on their next release, perhaps radio-ready hooks would be a good place to start.
This is the part of the party where bottles are broken, fists are thrown and the DJ booth gets raided. All the throwback vibes are thrown away for a hook that goes, “It’s your party / We at your party screaming f--- your party.” It’s the ‘Bastards of the Party’ at their most bastardly (the song title should have been a forewarning). It’s also the type of nihilism that’s shockingly contagious. Also, to continue the story arc, the girl who invited the World’s Fair member over is quite perturbed at the mess the group caused at the party (“How Prince gonna punch my boyfriend’s father in the face though?”). She still decides to come back over to his place anyway.
11. ‘Your Girls Here Pt. II'
The crew is obviously not done with causing carnage yet, but they’re not as schizophrenic as they were last track. SPVCE’s instrumental is a chest-beating one, but its Oriental style percussion calls for some focus. The group delivers some solid lines here: “I’m a little crazy, I’m a little bit gorgeous / Brown-skinned like Dora, do a whole lot of explorin’.” Needless to say, what he’s exploring isn’t exactly wholesome.
12. ‘Rear View’
Black Noise starts to bring things to a close with a waxy, nostalgic instrumental where the members of the group that are present here spit some lackluster rhymes. The highlight happens on the closing skit though. The main female throughout the album makes a negative, flippant comment about Queens, which angers the World’s Fair crew and prompts them to kick her out of the car in the middle of the borough. Never disrespect the place where a rapper rests his head at.
‘Blacklisted’ is your standard victory lap kind of track, used to bring the album to a close. It is a good listen just for the triumphant beat alone, but World’s Fair truly shines lyrically in the off-kilter hidden track. “I have a bunch of Twitter followers with nothing to preach / But I tweet what I tweet / Glass of Jack by my feet.” Ain’t that true and haven’t we all?