Review Summary: Save the bees!
Better take out your phone and post about this. This is the sound of a culture that does not feel alive unless they know the latest trends. This is the sound of a culture that is chained to social media's inter-connected fantasy. Your phone is a cultural symbol.
And we're killing the bees.
Badu planted a seed of an idea here, and while she embodied it in both the quick and consumable free mixtape format and imagery, her music unfortunately doesn't. Overall, these tracks feel like pretty mild pop/RnB hits with lyrics that are fairly typical to the genre; with descriptions of lust, love, and braggadocio that are not breaking any new ground. With that said though, these tracks are great.
With tracks like “Phone Down” the overall vibe of the this mixtape is felt. With its chill RnB flavor overlapped with a glimmering piano, it makes for a relaxing beat, but with its lyrics of “I can make you put your phone down” it can start to feel repetitive, straddling the line of vapid. And other tracks seem to suffer the same fate. With Mr. Telephone Man, the term is repeated in almost every line; albeit with a phrase added on, and a cool spacey beat with reversed drums and hi-hats backing. It still sounds great, but on first listen it does feel like there is nothing more to discover.
This feeling is relieved a bit by the fact that not every song has Badu's phrasing at the helm. In “What's Yo Phone Number” a verse from ItsRoutine breaks up the montony a bit, and it feels refreshing to hear another voice, even if the lyrics do feel like typical braggadocio. Andre 3000 even makes an appearance on Hello, and his amazing flow propels the song with the subject of leaving his phone and fantasy world behind for some real world conversation. With this, the songs phrasing of “Hello hey hello”, feels that much more digestible and in-place with the rest of the song.
The second half of this song deviates from the typical formula, and it's these moments where the mixtape shines brightest. With chopped up and distorted vocal effects alongside an active trap beat, it feels like a welcome surprise; especially considering the next track follows in these experimental footsteps. Using robotic vocals talking about cell phones killing bees, the tape's theme is explored in more abstract terms; then excels when that same roboticness is delivered alongside a bassy beat that flows perfect together. And with the cheering children samples, this song shows itself to be hilarious and fresh. It definitely feels like this whole tape could have benefited more by going into left field, especially with the roboticness of the theme that she is tackling.
Time to post this to the world. Cool. Now let's step away and save some bees.