Album Review: Waka Flocka Flame-Flockaveli
Waka Flocka Flame is everything that is right and wrong with Hip-Hop. His unrelenting spirit and refusal to compromise reflect the very nature of this culture. His glaring lack of actual skill in the midst of phenomenal success however is a slap in the face of anyone who ever thought of this culture and its accompanying soundtrack as a real artform. It’s hard to get a legitimate read on what Flocka represents, because media coverage of him is specifically designed to look for ignorant shit.
His debut retail album, Flockaveli, is homage to Tupac’s final non-postumous epic. Whether intentionally or not, the album goes so far in forcing its brand of music that it’s almost in subgenre territory: fight music.
Before we go further, it’s important to note there is not much lyricism on this album. Flocka himself makes very few attempts at being coherent, lyrically aside from the closing track “Fuck The Industry” and the narrative “For My Dawgz,” which chronicles his life from growing up in Queens to migrating south and getting it going with his music.
You already know the force of “Hard In Da Paint” and “Oh Let’s Do It,” both proven club bangers that have set the streets on fire.
Producer Lex Luger is almost Reggaetonian in his ability to make multiple songs from the same basic beat, something Erick Sermon mastered two decades ago with his Zapp and Roger pilferage. Almost every single song he produced on this album is one or two elements off from being the exact same composition. The only noticeable differences in production come on “Smoke, Drank,” “Fuck The Club Up,” which features Pastor Troy and Brick Squad member Slim Dunkin, as well as a deep slow pace, deeper 808s and keys.
Young Money’s Gudda Gudda drops a lackluster performance on “Bricksquad.” Roscoe Dash and Wale drop by on the ode to acrobatic oral, “No Hands.” Wale drops the most lyrical performance on the album, but not enough to convert to hood to his cause. Dash’s “all the way turnt up” flow is in effect and rough in patches but smooth otherwise.
“Live By The Gun” features Ra Diggs and Uncle Murda paying tribute to Dudus and the Shower posse while racking up a huge body count, noting that there “ain’t no fair ones, squiggly lines and IV’s for motherfuckers.
The rest of the album is helmed by Flocka and his Brick Squad crew, which surprisingly is the reason this album doesn’t devolve further. The performances of YG Hootie, Bo Deal and especially Slim Dunkin bang throughout on tracks “Bang” “G Check” and “Karma.” Joe Moses shines on “TTG (Trained To Go) and Popa Smurf goes hard on “Homies.” Cartier Kitten serves as Trina lite on “Snake In The Grass.”
“Fuck This industry” closes the album out as Flocka raises some issues with the music business. Flock paints a picture of a lonely world covered with fakeness with lines like “Lord take my back, the Devil entered me” “I can’t trust myself, so don’t trust me, I can’t trust my friends cause they set me up.”
Flockaveli is a very long album that has a lot of filler. It’s loose and aggressive, borderline forcing its way into another category of music altogether. Waka Flocka Flame is a black hole of talent saved by a vast wealth of infectious hooks and huge charisma. The Brick Squad saves the album with their individual performances, but not by much. There is a gang element on this album that is subliminal but clearly present. Listeners can take what they are meant to from that aspect, I suppose.
The one note production is also a negative artistically, but undeniably effective in its goals to provoke listeners. If this music continues to push into its own subgenre, then this album deserves the credit as the starting point. When judged purely on its Hip-Hop merit, Flockaveli is too poor lyrically to warrant a high rating of any sort.
Waka Flocka Flame-Hard In Da Paint
out of 5
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