Review Summary: I wasn't in it for attention or a name/I ain't in it for the money or the fame/I ain't in it for myself, I ain't in it for my health bitch/I'm in it for my niggas we the gang
While Lil’ Bibby had a “moment” during the later half of 2013 with his tape Free Crack
, his homie Lil’ Herb AKA G-Herbo consistently dropped scene-stealing guest verses and mixtape teasers, each one more aggressive and impressive than the last.
For a while it seemed Herb was to be the witty playboy to Bibby’s self-contained menace (“I’m a young nigga with a COUGAR BITCH”
). Herb’s recent collaboration with Tink, "Talkin’ Bout" seemed to reinforce this theme, but Welcome To Fazoland
doesn’t return to it. Which, although I was interested in that persona, is fine if it means he’s not pandering to anyone. What we get instead is Lil’ Herb the soldier, a street kid fiercely loyal to his gang and painfully aware of the multitude of negative externalities surrounding him.
Point blank, Lil Herb can ***ing rap. He’s a physical rapper, not in the way Young Thug dances around the beat, but in a way that sounds like he’s about to fight you every time he spits. From “Koolin” to “Designer” to the previously released “4 Minutes of Hell Pt. 4”, Herb packs dizzying arrays of syllables upon syllables in his hoarse voiced double time flow with manic intensity. And he’s not just showing off. He knows how to play with beats. “On My Soul” is a banger, it’s creeping beat letting Herb effortlessly go off throughout, exploding with internal rhymes the feds probably putting dead bodies on everybody
, pausing in the middle and letting the drums stand alone to “smoke a blunt then I’m back at it” before launching into another 2 couplets of dizzying rhymes I’m working hard cuz my tape shoulda been dropped and bro’s *** going nuts for the crack addicts/meanwhile bitch I’m focused on my mathematics/all this money in the world, yeah I gotta have it.
Sometimes, Herbo over-raps, like the hook to “Designer”, which, though catchy at first listen, quickly gets grating, or the second verse to the otherwise stunning “Love 2 Stunt”, which sounds like it was recorded at normal tempo and sped up. However, if you’re someone who likes getting lost in the flow, Herb’s rapping is sublime.
reeks of decay and paranoia. You can hear Herb’s desperation on "At The Light" where stoplights not only regulate traffic, but also serve as a crossroads between life and death. I know niggas out for my life/Gotta look to my left and my right/summertime/I remember them nights
. Herb’s mindset is obviously a product of this environment. On “Fight or Flight” Herb provides a much compelling reason for his and his peers dedication to the gang-one’s identity is taken for granted when you and your friends are targeted the same. It’s hard for a young black nigga like myself/Where the police compare oneself to everyone else/ so that means if your yourself they think you’re everybody else/So I don’t care about no one else/just my family and myself
. With this type of scrutiny coming from his enemies, both legal and illegal, how can he do anything but stick to his boys?
The most returned to motif throughout this tape is his gang, NLMB, and his undying loyalty to them and their deceased members. More than any other rap release I can think of since Acid Rap
, the ghosts of fallen friends dwell heavily within Fazoland
. Roc, Kobe, and the eponymous Fazo are all names heard repeatedly throughout the tape. "Write Your Name" is the most touching moment lament to his brothers, if mostly for it’s starry-eyed, chipmunk soul beat, courtesy of Snapback, and Herb’s flawed but honest description of his response nigga say *** roc block, send shots at them/scoreboard say “ten-zero”/send shots again/keep going until we drop lots of men
. His pained delivery only furthers the point. While Herb can’t control his environment, he can control his piece.
As per usual on projects by Chicago artists, all the guests pretty much spazz. Reese sounds menacing on his “WOULDA. SHOULDA. COULDA - nigga” refrain on “On My Soul” and his verse bounces around the beat like they haven’t in awhile, despite staying in the same flow throughout. Louie seems a little tired in his elder statesmen role, but still delivers a quality verse on "Another Me", while Lil’ Bibby outraps his bud on "All I Got", his grizzly voice pounding the beat with malice and authority.
Make no mistake, Herb has blessed us with his debut, a tape good enough to be sold for money by any rapper. That said, there’s still plenty of room for development, as his soon coming attention will surely become part of his narrative. What both Herb and Bibby have done is effectively end that ridiculous conversation people were having back in 2012 about whether Chief Keef is the victim or the villain. Obviously, all three of these men are neither. They’re complicated people from a complicated place and Herb's might be the loudest in the room.