Review Summary: This is not for the less astute guppies, so go back to watching videos of cute puppies.
Many of you have likely heard of Wax; he has been building up his name for the past three years or so by posting his videos of himself rapping, sometimes with his twin brother Herbal T, on Youtube. He has just recently been signed to Def Jam records, which is actually a pretty big deal for someone who got famous in the manner that he did. His new mixtape was officially released on March 15, 2011. It features many of his well known tracks, including New Crack
, which has an intro that references his popularity on Youtube: "We just reached a million views, about to drink a billion brews." Most of the songs on the mixtape were produced by EOM, his colleague and long time friend. The two had previously collaborated on 2008’s Liquid Courage, self released by Wax and EOM.
'Scrublife' is really a fitting title to this collection of songs. In the age of the internet becoming famous via Youtube is no longer that unheard of, but it’s still a little bit odd. For the most part, he’s just a regular 20-something trying to live a good life in California. His raps are less about bling and swag and more about bike lanes and splurging on Captian Morgan’s spiced rum. Listening to lines like “Oh yah, oh my my, I don’t give a fuck about a DUI, you can take away my license but you can’t take away my pride, Oh yah oh my my, Imma keep drinkin’ till the day I die, two wheels is the way I ride
” from Two Wheels
, it’s nearly impossible to not relate, or at least empathize, with the everyday struggles of his “scrub life.”
Wax’s rapping on the mixtape varies in quality, but when it's good, it's incredible. The standout song is definitely 2010 Til Infinity
. On this track, Wax delivers his best vocal performance behind an incredibly subtle, yet gripping beat which is taken from a song by Oakland hip-hop group Souls of Mischeif called 93 Til Infinity
. The chilled-out piano-based beat rocks by subtly in the background as Wax's clever lines take centre-stage. The track opens with "This is not for the less astute guppies / go back to watching videos of cute puppies / or little babies dancing to 'Single Ladies' / whatever stimulation the simple taste of your brain needs
" and I could go on, but I would probably just end up quoting the whole thing. Every line is clever and well-executed and the general 'theme' of the song is how he's started to take charge of his own life. It's uplifting and very easy to relate to, like much of the mixtape. That's the thing that's so awesome about this release, Wax raps about stuff that regular people think about
: spending too much money on beer, hating his shi
tty day job, staring at himself in the mirror and telling himself this he's going to get his life together, and so on. He makes me feel like I could be a rapper (except there's no fu
cking way I could be a rapper at all, let alone be anywhere near to as good as he is).
Other clear standouts include the first two tracks, Red
("you're an F to the A to the I to the L
"), the fun Dispensary Girl
, which is a track about a woman he meets at his local medical marijuana dispensary, and the penultimate track, Wax Goes Bananas on Shade 45
, where wax does a "writ-style" live on radio. (He admits it's not technically a freestyle, so the DJ compromises.)
Some of the songs are admittedly of much lesser quality; Everything
come to mind. But to be fair, this is a mixtape. It's really just an amalgamation of all the songs he posted to Youtube over the past three years or so. Also, the weaker tracks are not necessarily bad at all. They're just not on the same level as some of the monster tracks on the album. The choruses on the weaker tracks tend to be what turns me off for the most part, but it's just because they aren't as gripping as the perfectly simple beat and genius rapping found on the aforementioned 2010 Til Infinity
ck I love that song). What I'm trying to say is, every song is still at least fun as hell and full of hooks. And no matter what the tone of the individual song, Wax is always spitting some pretty funny and/or accessible lyrics. He gets pretty serious sometimes like on Music and Liquor
"Addictive personality, ironically, I write my realest shit when I escape from reality. I drink to forget then I write to remember, its been like that since my high-school tenure. I can't imagine if I never had this rapping hobby, I'd rarely be happy probably. But I knew a lot of people when I lived back in Maryland; they had it way worse getting addicted to heroin. So I shouldn't be too pissed, I'm just getting sick of writing drunken self-help to do lists that remain unchecked cause I never follow through, and when you move old habits follow you.
But it is most notable on Mary
. This is a song told from the perspective of a young girl who has never met her dad. Her mother's boyfriend moves in after a while and things start off OK. As the song progresses though, the new house guest reveals himself to be an abusive alcoholic. He starts sexually assaulting Mary (this is never actually explicitly stated, which is clever, because which little kid knows what 'sexually assaulted' or 'raped' even means?) and one night Mary gets fed up and hides a knife under her pillow. When he comes in that night to do his thing, she goes crazy on him, justifiably so, and just absolutely murders the FU
CK out of him. It's actually pretty brutal.
And then there's weird, funny, totally not serious stuff like the guest appearances by Dale Firebird. I'll try not to give away too much here but Dale Firebird is a 'hick' who "only drinks American beer" and has a guest track. He also appears for several 10-20 second skits though where he lets us all know that the mixtape is "fu
cking god awful." Simply put, it's hilarious.
This is a mixtape with a lot of content and I could go on; I've really only mentioned about half of the tracks that I feel are notable. There is a lot to say about the 17 tracks. Some of them are phenomenal, most of them are great, and a few are just passable. Overall, sounds like a pretty good album, doesn't it? And even if you don't like some of the songs, well, cool it. It's a mixtape and this guy just got signed. With the continued help of EOM, Herbal T, and Dumbfounded, and the financial backing of a big music label, Wax has the potential to really take the mainstream hip-hop world by storm with a strong full-length LP.
- Dispensary Girl
- 2010 Til Infinity
- New Crack
- Wax Goes Bananas on Shade 45