Review Summary: 2k17: Year of the Sosa
It’s undoubtedly hasty to be calling this Chief Keef’s year less than two weeks in, but for what it’s worth, it seems a prediction likely to come true. His patchy-yet-prolific 2015 was followed by reports of retirement (at the ripe old age of 21, no less), and a more-than-underwhelming 2016. And although 2016 seemed a year in which the, “youngest flexer,” seemed altogether too content sitting around playing GTA V in his mansion up in Beverly Hills, there were inklings of this “revival” of his career (and quite possibly, the Chicago drill scene). Sure, there had been rumblings of various projects ever since Camp Glotiggy dropped, and disappeared from view in somewhat unspectacular fashion, but the radio static was never really backed by anything that seemed like passion or intent on the part of the young man. In part, this is why his late-2016 rant about ending the coloured-hair rappers’ careers and the self-proclaimed, “return of the old sosa,” seemed so inspiring. There was a sense of passion oft found absent with Keef. Of course, he was releasing leaks every other day, but there was otherwise a lot of fucking around on the PS4 and, admittedly well-earnt, relaxation in 2016. The mid-show rant, on the other hand, seemed quite legitimate. Hell, he even put it on his dead homies (G.I.P. Blood Money and Capo
). It seemed a statement of intent rather than the typical boastful flexing of hisself and his contemporaries.
And thus came the announcement of Two Zero One Seven. There was some speculation as to whether or not it would ever really happen (given the endless delays that plagued Bang 3 and even Glotiggy, and Keef’s quite questionable credibility when announcing tapes, see: Mansion Musick, Thot Breaker). But evidently, after a year of empty promises, and what could be construed as a form of complacency, we can now say, “Sosa’s back.”
And while it has been heralded as the return of old Sosa, it seems equally distant as any of his post-2012 work. Thematically it’s a bit more akin to the "gang shit" of Finally Rich, and in turn with the revival of some of Sosa’s vintage ad-libs//lyrical motifs, it does manage to scratch that epithetical itch
for, “old Sosa.” But musically it sits somewhere between Sosa’s dark party-drill of 2015 (see: Sorry 4 The Weight, Almighty DP 1 & 2), and the leaned out Sosa of 2013-14. “Fix That” coopts a twinkly, and only barely melodic beat (that in another context could be appropriated by one of the up-and-coming cloud-drillers), allowing Sosa to flex his new found love of sing-rapping, which fades into leaned-out drawl, to Tadoe’s typically flowless shout-rap and back. Contrastingly, “Check” relies on a bouncy, DMX-gone-drill, mantra-driven hook, backed by a beat that showcases all that Sosa has learnt from his contemporaries (his beat-making tuition coming courtesy of drill legends DP Beats and Young Chop), replete with synth strings and constantly dynamic snares and hats. And despite the almost dialectical manner in which Two Zer One Seven summates Sosa’s various sounds throughout his career, it doesn’t cripple itself with burden. There’s a step away from the autotune and vocoder abuse of his post-2012 career, Sosa instead opting to let shine his weed-smoking wheeze and slight melodic misses, yet it doesn’t come at the cost of veering into the already charted territory of his earlier career. Instead, Two Zero One Seven finds a comfortable midpoint, albeit one coloured by his interactions with his Detroit counterparts and his new Swedish friends (the SBE influence shining through most notably in his new-found love for drawling and the lethargic haze that permeates large parts of the tape).
The influence is not only implicit either, old pals//counterparts Young Chop and Lex Luger chiming in with their typically trademarked beats, and Glo Gang stalwart Tadoe jumping in with his typically drawled-shout rap. Oddest of all is the surprisingly effective feature of his sister on “Hit the Lotto”; her heavily autotuned crooning a refreshing counterpoint to Keef’s more menacing tone, bright rather than domineering in its boastfulness.
Although the awkward loud at times, soft at times mastering (that comes courtesy of Datpiff) does blunt the impact of Two Zero One Seven at certain points -- the beats varying wildly from too soft to brickwalled -- as a whole, Two Zero One Seven does not fall into those traps of monotony and inconsistency that so often plague mixtapes. Perhaps it’s a side-effect of pre-release revisions in the long wait leading up, but regardless of cause it signals Sosa’s intent to make a statement; indicting the missteps of the current scene (most notably those of the Famous Dexs and other “fufu ass coloured hair niggas” that have recently taken over the drill and trap scenes), and pushing for that course-correction he sees as so required.
It's obvious that Sosa’s got a point to prove (“Errybody be on that gang shit//I didn’t even know I was that large//I didn’t even know I went that dumb”
), and while he seems comfortable hanging with the “Playstation Gang” (“Big TV near the toilet I take big shits”
), it seems that Two Zero One Seven is the beginning of what could be Sosa’s biggest year yet.
Originally Posted here: https://illicitlistening.com/2017/01/07/2k17-year-of-the-sosa/