Review Summary: A Breath of Fresh Air for the Asthmatic Lungs of Hip Hop
California. A beautiful land that was once home to Indigenous Mexicans and Native Americans, the eventual home of the Wild West and American Individualism, the land where countless American policemen and civil servants died to create a safe-haven by resisting the Mafia and the Ku Klux Klan. Yet, today California is known only as the place that elected The Terminator as Governor, and for being overwhelmingly filled with unbelievably stupid people who render the minorities of level-minded people helpless. This is especially true in Los Angeles, a city that’s immigration or bilingual polices (depending on who you ask) are so dreadful, that half the population has a harder time communicating with one another than a flock of geese. Swizz and Hopsin become relevant to this scenario as defenders of the style of LA in the past. They have an obvious bone to pick with the direction their society has taken in modern times, and they are here to show intelligence and good faith still exists in a shallow wasteland of imbeciles.
On the fourteen track Funk Volume Mixtape: Haywire
, five tracks are from Hopsin alone, and five are with verses from only SwizZ, leaving four tracks with verses from both SwizZz and Hopsin. Swizz and Hopsin’s style is vaguely similar to the Michigan based rap group Binary Star. Their influences in old school hip hop are apparent, but not exaggerated, and their overall style is still distinctively new school. Hopsin has a similar voice to One Be Lo of Binary Star, and also combines intelligent lyricism and a purposeful message in such a way that it is hard to believe he is a new school rapper. Swizz, meanwhile, is distantly reminiscent of Senim Silla of Binary Star for his humbleness and candor in his lyrics.
The mixtape starts with underwhelming tracks that feature both artists, and SwizZz’s first verse alone may prove to be enough to get many listeners to hit eject. The main flaw on Haywire
is SwizZz’s voice is too goofy, which is a shame because lyrically he is a beast. He over pronounces with a type of E-40 rhyme-accent, and this is only made worse when he raps about foolish stuff like Flip Cup and Beer Pong on the first track Funk Volume
. Yet SwizZz is nevertheless a good rapper and usually features notable subject matter. He manages to create a worthwhile dance song on Ramble
, a deep and emotional track Wanna Know
, an excellent lyrical effort on Too Far Gone
, and he plays a big role in the highlight of the album, The Lucifer Effect
, a masterful song reminiscent of Eminem and Dr. Dre’s back-and-forth on the track “Guilty Conscience”. However, SwizZz-only tracks like Blow a Cloud
and Low Dough
feature the worst hooks on the album, and are what make this mixtape drag on near the end.
While SwizZz manages to create tracks that are good-but-flawed, Hopsin is much more consistent and overall the superior emcee by far, which is why the second, third, fourth, and fifth best tracks are the ones where Hopsin is left to do the verses on his own. It’s All Good Now
features very bright lyrics about fake friends, plus an excellent blending of flow and a west-coast inspired beat. The song also features the mixtape’s best hook. I Make the World Spin
is a talented and aggressive rap dissing the new age. Cover Up
deals with fake 'bitches', a term which he painstakingly defines on the track, and Leave Me Alone
is essentially a continuation on the topic. Hop Sin’s only bad effort on the entire mixtape comes on The Hop Train
, which is one of the worst tracks on the entire mixtape because of a corny pop sound created by the hook and beat.
Although mixtapes are not typically judged for the overall cohesion of the album, it is nevertheless strange how naturally the topic switches from pure happiness to absolute sadness on Haywire
. This first comes off as an odd contradiction, but in the end seems more like the enlightened view of wise kids that have seen more than their fair share of tragedies (and learned from them). All in all, despite a decent amount of flaws, this album amounts to a critically needed breath of fresh air into the Asthmatic lungs of modern day hip hop.