Monday, February 21, 2011

5. Album Review: Waka Flocka Flame-"Flockaveli"

Hell is Hot, and the Happy Hands Club will accept anyone nowadays.

     I enjoy hyphy music. I am capable of getting crunk with the homies. As well as a white boy can, at least. When I listen to music, I'm very energetic and emotive, so a kickass track will often drive me into a frenzy. I've been hearing a lot of positive talk about this new artist, Waka Flocka Flame, and despite my initial impression of him being a Neanderthal with a loose, questionable grasp on the English language, I'm giving his debut album, Flocakveli, a spin with open ears and an open heart. And an open zipper. Bonzai.

1. Bustin' At 'Em
     Before I know it, Waka is shooting at me. A lot. It's cool, I've been shot at before. Mr. Scarface is Back, Ready to Die, Straight Outta Compton. Moving on.
     The chorus reinforces Waka's tendency to "shoot first and ask questions later" as apparently, that's how "so-called gangstas last". Wait, I'm confused already. Is he insulting himself? It sounds like he's calling himself a so-called gangsta, right? Maybe that's desirable now. Shit if I know. The beat is pretty solid, accented with the chatter of cocking pistols, discharged bullets and frequent squawks from what must be Waka's crew. Say, this bass is raw, but unfortunately, it comes and goes without warning. 
     The primary message is a general description of Waka's talents and physical aesthetic. Alright, cool. I'm always down for an introduction, and am now ready to get to the real shit. But within the last minute of the track, Waka appears to suffer a prolonged, psychotic seizure. I will translate the vocals below, in the Memorable lines section, for obvious medical reasons, as doctors will doubtless be puzzling for years over what happens to Waka between 3:00-3:30.
Memorable lines:
"Waka, waka, waka, flocka, flocka, waka, waka, yeah, waka, flocka, flocka, flocka, flame, waka, flocka, flocka, waka, flocka, flocka, waka, flocka, flocka, waka, flocka, flocka, waka, waka, flocka, flocka, yeah, waka, flocka, flocka, flocka, Briiiccckkk Squuuaaaddd, flocka"
2. Hard In Da Paint
     Oh, cool instrumental. Ominous, brooding. Within the first 8 lines, Waka rhymes "nigga" with "nigga" 3 times.  I Urban Dictionary-ed what "hard in the paint" means, and the best I can figure is that it's another way of saying, "I try really hard". I'm not sure who Waka's talking to throughout this track, but he's trying his best to be insulting, bless him. Mostly by doubting his victim's level of hood-ness. Hard words from a hard man. 
     Jesus. The seizure happens again at 3:10. There should really be a disclaimer for this. I understand that the *creative team* behind Flockaveli didn't dare edit parts of this album, for fear of losing any golden material, but Waka's apparent condition needs to censored and examined. This is the kind of song I could smash things to, though. First target being the source of the music itself, of course. 

Memorable lines: 
"Wassup, prissy nigga. Wassup, fuck nigga."
Because it's goddamn hilarious. 
3. TTG (Trained To Go)
    I'm getting used to these constant "BLAOWS" littered across the album. This is a joint dedicated to expressing the steadfast and competent nature of Waka and his pals, who are: trained to go, able to kick in doors, lay on the floor, rob people, hit people on the chirp, not go to school, change television channels and of course, represent. Great production. Some epic, majestic orchestration. 
Memorable lines:
This is really grasping at the straws, but...
"New boy on the block, so you know my pants be jerkin'
You got weed, sulphur, pills, fucker is you workin'?"
4. Bang
    Finally, a song that really exemplifies what Waka is all about. Onamonapias. Bangs, blaows and blahts. This is the best Waka has flowed since the album began, and the -40 decibel bass is pumpin'. Most of this is unintelligible, but in a Do or Die kind of way, so it works. Yeah, I'm digging this one. 
Memorable lines (a.k.a. the only one I could make out):
"Natural born shooter, at the club, party pooper"
Shucks, Waka's a silly bitch. 
5. No Hands 
     I remember this being on the radio. I enjoyed it then, so I should now. The chorus is a lot of fun, as some post-tracheotomy patient sings the hook, "I love the way yo' booty gooo". A good, old-fashioned booty gong. Waka, who is probably struggling with the cocaine drip in his throat, stumbles through a verse without collapsing at the mic. Wale spits a relatively fantastic verse. I particularly enjoy the bit about nunchucking ladies with what must be a penis. Roscoe does well, and my initial anger with his rhyming of "on me" with "bologna" is alleviated when he sing-songs "rain, rain, go away, that's what all my haters say". That is so catchy. Solid club jam.
Memorable lines:
"And who you with, and what's your name?
Are you not hip, boo? I'm Wale
And that DC shit, I rap all day
And my eyes red 'cause of all that haze"
6. Brick Squad 
     Sweet lady production. I will listen to a song over and cover, blissfully ignorant of its lyricism, as if the beat is right, I can go all night. The seizure returns, along with Gudda Gudda, who is a problem.

     Gudda  x2 is of the Young Money crew, and should stay there, lest his special brand of shit spread like a virus to other prospective artists. He has no business describing things, or being amplified for others to hear. I mean, Waka is probably having a tough enough time as it is. 
Hold up. 
     Actually it would seem that Waka is really popular right now. I wouldn't have guessed that, this far into the album, but maybe something will surprise me yet. Anyway, this song features more spastic flailing from Waka and offensively boring rhymes from Gudda x2. Also, this new trend of "I'm doing me" is ridiculous, and its practitioners should be subjected to public humiliation and forced self-penetration.  
Memorable lines:
I can't remember any, probably due to the obscene amounts of Acetone huffed afterwards in an obviously successful attempt to cleanse my mind. 
7. Fuck the Club Up
     A party song, for a change. I'm not sure why Waka is advocating his listeners to "fuck the club up", for then there would be no venue for his music to be played. Maybe he's self-aware. Some high-voiced guest rapper (Pastor Troy?) shows up about 2 minutes in and does pretty well. Frankly, these beats are getting monotonous. I'm pretty sure this is the same beat used in previous songs, with a different loop pasted over it. The chorus needs to be banned. 
Memorable lines:
I really tried, but I've got nothing. 
8. Homies

     Ugh. Insane Clown Posse flashback. A sweet, G-Funked beat. Decent chorus. Waka has a frustrating habit of being overshadowed by either his beats or his guest rappers. This hot organ pops up at some point and instantly makes this song more listenable. One of the best beats on the album with decent, if forgettable, lines. 
Memorable lines:
"I'm from the hood, it's a shitpot
Don't know the right niggas, you gon' get got"
9. Grove St. Party
     I can tell right away that this is a decent driving jam. Waka describes the scene well, but feels the need to remind us that "it's a party" over and over in the chorus. Roscoe rhymes "mothafucka" with "mothafucka" way too many times, and it makes me angry. Let me clarify. I'm fine with the repetition of certain words and phrases during a verse, but it needs to have some variation and not be a carbon copy of the origin line. Even Kanye pulls it off. Don't be lazy. 
Memorable lines: 
"My bread startin' a riot, your girl gettin' excited
Hold on wanna try it, I'm like why not try it?
My swag they wanna buy it, my juice they wanna try it" 
Yeah, seriously. And I had to search for that. 
10. O Let's Do It
     Waka changes the spelling of "rope" to "ropa", in order to rhyme with "coka". This is going to be rough. The chorus is nice, and the verses stimulating, relatively speaking. Whatever. Not a bad song, just get me out of here. This album is starting to wear me down. 
Memorable lines:
"Hit squad shawty in the hood, we got them babies
Ever since they killed my nigga Travis, start poppin' pills and actin' crazy"
11. Karma
     In the first verse, Waka states that "yeah, I was scared, but I ain't have no fear". See what I'm working with? I mean, he's trying out a more complex concept with this track, good. But I have trouble following shit if it makes no goddamned sense. The laughing in the background is Waka enjoying himself, having tricked me into listening to this. Again, the guest spots make Waka sound as if he learned English grammar and vocabulary from a foreign radio program with bad reception. 
Memorable lines:
Continuing this section is unnecessary for the rest of this album. 
12. Live By the Gun
     The oddest thing about Waka Flocka Flame, is that I went into this album expecting a crunk/hyphy album. Not poorly constructed gangster rap. It's funny to think what formula was used to decide when a gunshot effect would best serve the track. 
"How long has it been since we had a gunshot? 
"Like, fuckin', at least 5 seconds."
"Cutting it close with that bullshit, man. Our listeners need explosions in their ears on a regular basis."   
See? Even he doesn't know what he's doing.

13. For My Dawgs
     My favorite part of this song is when Waka says, "You don't know by now, boy, they call me Waka Flocka" in the very beginning. Maybe he's mixed up. This is the 13th track. I can see a line like that on the 2nd or 3rd track, but near the end of the album? It's like he's throwing those little word magnets up against a refrigerator and writing down what sticks. Good beat, but nobody should care with these lobotomizing lyrics. 

14. G Check
     If you thought this album lacked gunshot effects, this track seeks to fix that immediately. It's like the scene from City of God, if everyone chose to actually shoot their shit. 
Wishful Thinking: This photo was taken by Waka with his golden camera. Credited posthumously.
The best thing to be said about this track is that it's not the longest one on the album.
15. Snake in the Grass
     Waka actually squeezes out some decent rhymes here, and the flow is bouncing. Cartier Kitten comes in halfway through and brings me back from the brink of insanity. Maybe this will turn around yet. The beat is a variation on a theme. The theme being lazy bullshit. 
16. Smoke, Drank
    A nice gated run starts this off. Some bad banter. "Dreadlocks" is paired with "Madlock". My neural activity is dropping at an alarming rate. These entries are getting shorter, I realize, but I am listening to virtually track after identical track. 
17. Fuck This Industry
     A hilariously ironic title, because this is definitely what Waka and his spawn are doing. And I don't mean that in the good way, as if he's rebelling against a corrupt, fixed, soulless corporation. I mean, wherever the little quality is left within the game is located, Waka Flocka Flame is razing those struggling communities and salting the earth so that nothing may grow there. 
Worth the Time?
     This album started off promising, even enjoyable. The first half is not too bad. But Waka goes absolutely nowhere with this. And perhaps my current attitude is the product of cumulative doses of his music, compounded to make Flockaveli, as a whole, seem worse than it actually is. It's probably fine in small spurts. But presently, I am bewildered as to how his genetic makeup has evaded natural evolution for so long. Shouldn't the traits that made such a production possible have been long weeded out? Jesus Christ. I can only recommend those first 5 tracks. I don't think that Flockaveli was made for listening to in one sitting. I appreciate Waka's energy, in the same manner one may enjoy Lil John or Project Pat, but after No Hands or Homies you're essentially listening to carbon copies of previous songs. The album in its entirety should only be used for brutal pranks and Geneva Convention-approved forms of torture. 

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