Review Summary: who?
Despite being easily the most relaxed track Ski Mask has done since the ‘Gone’ interlude off You Will Regret
, the opener ‘So High’ is an instant favorite and quite telling of Ski Mask’s direction. Featuring a Dream Koala-esque guitar-heavy beat, Ski Mask croons gracefully over the smooth terrain, naturally reaching highs through his own touching vocal melody. Make no mistake though, Stokely
still features the goofy hero that materialized out of his other 2018 project The Book of Eli
. Yet if that output was the appetizer, this acts as the main course; it’s a filling, fleshed out project that progresses beyond his waterfall flow and satisfies the hungry fans hoping to hear something different.
And right off the bat, ‘Nuketown’ rears its head in, featuring a newly violent Juice WRLD and a typical triplet wielding Ski Mask. The duo is unexpected yet extremely welcome as the chorus of “CUT THROAT / CUT THROAT
” proves to be one of the most infectious yelled bursts of energy seen since ‘Take a Step Back’. Following it up is the fan favorite ‘Foot Fungus’, a long-awaited Ski Mask cut that includes a simple yet vibrant, bouncing beat-clap pattern and of course some fantastic sound effects and bars that meld together effortlessly in a way only Ski Mask could pull off.
I could go on, but in an attempt to not sound like a broken track-by-track record I’ll refrain from highlighting the scattered high points of this record. In all honesty, nothing can really be said about this album without coming off as scraping the barrel of rap-descriptors and recycling lines from previous reviews like “mouth-gargled flow” and “off-kilter”. Hopefully you know Ski Mask by now, and this brief rant isn’t to say that there’s nothing
to say about the album, good or bad, it’s just hard to define a rapper that has done such a feat through the release of this album. The same grisly, vulgar lines and jokey song titles can be found throughout this release (see Lil Yachty collab track ‘Cat Piss’) and the same wacky, onomatopoeia ad-libs are riddled throughout this record. Slight development as seen with the Cudi-esque ‘LA LA’ moans and the almost Kanye sounding beat sample within ‘Reborn to Rebel’ is encouraging to see, yet I doubt the changes are obvious enough for a normal fan to pick out, or rather, a music critic to point to as examples of “development”. Sure it’s not perfect, the Lil Baby and Austin Lam features would probably say otherwise as both dive into some troubling sadboi R&B territory that doesn’t fit Ski Mask’s style too well. Despite these missteps, it’s encouraging to see our hero previously plagued with bad management and a messy first 2018 release redeem himself in a manner as triumphant as the cover would suggest. I guess now would be a good time to tell you who Ski Mask the Slump God has named his album after. It’s himself.
Postscript: Although it has little to do with the review, I have to hold a special place to praise Stokely Goulbourne for how he has dealt with his friend’s death (XXX). On ‘U and I’ he directly mentions how he has “already lost his vro
” and it’s no surprise this track sounds like something X would’ve made, very much within the style of a ‘Moonlight’ featuring more singing Ski has done within any track I’ve heard by him. Goulbourne has not given into the cash-grab of his own friend’s death, and he hasn’t released hidden tapes that I’m sure he has hundreds of seeing the duo came up in the rap game together. Instead, he’s opted to memorialize what X was to him: a friend. He makes this clear within his Instagram post which showcases the scrapped album art which features both in frame wearing the same outfit. Say what you will about XXX but it’s touching and admirable coming from the usually all-but-serious hero.