Review Summary: flexing through the pain
the hardest thing i find about “writing” – narrative, in particular – is making a setting feel “whole”. or, to a more frustrating exent, progressing plot whatsoever. in some sense, i suppose, words feel restrictive. the entire process of writing, and, to a greater extent, its fruits, feel claustrophobic – redundant even... at the same time, however, i find it fitting: not in a postmodern sense, of course – not as a means of exposing the “limits of language” or some bull*** like that – but the challenge (and, indeed, its literal manifestation) is no less reflective of a struggle to externalise. grief. imagination. whatever. it’s a laboured point, sure, but so is nineteen
– an uneven, perhaps unsuccessful attempt at depicting colour within a gloom-ridden world. it’s surprising to me, then, that i like it so much. not because it’s bad. in fact, it’s quite good. but where these same problems plagued 2017’s post death
, they seemed almost parodical of a (sub-)genre i legitimately cared for.
within the realm of “emotional trap” (emo rap, soundcloud hip hop, each less descriptive than the last), it’s undoubtful (and perhaps a little unavoidable) that artists wear their mood disorders on their sleeves. the veracity of such claims isn’t often questioned. nor should it be. (not because it’s unimportant, but rather issues of authenticity and authorial intent are only made more complex in the face of mental illness.) but that the lyrics on post death
left such a sour taste in my mouth is surely indicative of something. on opener ‘i ain’t feeling better’, our man sings, “*** that sad ***, put that ass right in my face / oh ***, you got a man" well, he’s gone catch a fade,” and i can’t help but groan. i think, maybe, it’s the cockiness of it all, but i can’t help but suspect lil peep could’ve delivered the same line with little more than an eyeroll. yung lean, on the other hand, could smooth it out with a wink. it might be the approach, then, or the context in which it’s delivered. in an earlier line, gg croons, “and if i had a glock i would aim it at my ceiling / if i could feel *** i would be in my feelings…” written down, it’s quite clever – indeed, it does feel almost satirical – but it becomes less so considering just how serious guccihighwaters is, or can be.
in some sense, therefore, nineteen
is a useful correction. guccihighwaters’ sound remains largely the same. the ep is, when it comes down to it, rather lush. there is, no doubt, an emo trap influence, but hi-hat triplets are kept to a tasteful minimal, and instrumentals adopt a more organic sound that in the music of many of his contemporaries. closer ‘stupid mess’ whistles intoxicatingly over melting pianos and muted guitar strums, and highlight ‘nervous’ showcases a newfound knack for layering vocals. nineteen
’s subtleties are all the more impressive considering post death
’s banal flexes. more than anything, however, it signifies growth. where on post death
, mental illness was adopted as an excuse – for both lazy songwriting and ***headedness – ‘hurt before’ accepts, “we’ve all been hurt before, it don’t make you a savage / we’ve all been hurt before, it’s just the way you handle”. even where gg does take on a a subtle form of arrogance on ‘should be’, it’s tasteful, mature even:
forget it, i can flex through the pain
hearts on my eyes right behind my gucci shades
born with sauce you can’t aquire
can’t be born with talent, you a liar
feels claustrophobic. at the beginning of ‘so temporary’ is a sample of a doctor explaining depression of a clinical sort. “i feel like *** again (i feel like ***ing ***)”, he follows it with, and again on the closer, “woke up at 2pm, forgot to drop my tape / i’m a stupid mess”. it is a flaw. a depression permeates the greater part of the project, in turn highlighting an inability to break past the mundanities of life. it is, as a result, a shallow listen. but i think that’s also a strength. in spite of it – in spite of being stuck in this pit – nineteen
demonstrate growths. and, in some sense, that makes it all the more impressive. post death
embodied an unyielding (and inappropriate) blackness; nineteen
, on the other hand, tries to come to terms with that, and in doing so draws red. it hurts, but it’s life.