Review Summary: Seventh (grade) heaven (frozen over)
Since its inception, cloud rap has prized atmosphere over content. Lil B's "I'm God" and Main Main Attrakionz' "Cloud Body" have become trademark tracks of the genre despite relatively basic bars; the very sound of emcee's voices over plush beats entrances even the most lyrically-oriented listeners. However, the best cloud rap artists have not utilized their beats as a crutch, but as a complement. In the wake of excellent cloud rap records by the likes of Bones and Bladee, Lil Ugly Mane's gut-twisting gansta rap set a high bar for acts to follow. Thankfully, Bladee's Icedancer finds one of cloud rap's originators back at the top of his game.
Bladee's strength has never been tied to his vocal prowess; he sings the same basic major chords over and over again (veering from major thirds to perfect fourths is his M.O.). His best tracks match his evocative, wintry lyrics to hypermelodic beats that do justice to both aspects. As such, tracks like "Forget WYS" and "Rain Check" offer some of the strongest performances of his career. On "Icedancer," he embraces those strengths to the fullest.
"Icedancer" never runs amok of its resources. Executive production team Ripsquadd hands Bladee a plethora of lush, arctic beats, and instead of slipping into lyrical laziness ala D&G, Bladee dives back into the evocative emo-rap of past highlights "Gluee" and "Eversince." The result is a tape that celebrates the meeting of a talented beatmaker and a frequent collaborator. From the upbeat star-scraping "Jaws" to the reflective "Everything," "Icedancer" pulls Bladee's vocals in many directions without losing sight of his strengths. There's never been a better match of form to content. In a genre couched in aesthetics, "Icedancer" is both a gift to modern audiences and future enthusiasts wishing to understand what cloud rap has to offer.
It's 3:00 a.m. in late February. You walked home from the middle school bus shivering and overheard Mom talking about snow over the phone to Dad. Is he going to be home for dinner? It's spaghetti and meatballs, your favorite. The smell of marinara floats from the kitchen into the dining room where you do your homework. 17 X 5 - ok, that's 10 X 5 + 7 X 5, or 50 + 35. 85. If the girls in class saw you move through these questions so fast, they'd be blown away. Especially Anne-Hunter...You finish your homework and Mom lets you play Melee for a bit. Really, Icicle Mountain again? Your little brother won't play anyone else but Marth but you know how to play Peach now, so you just chuck vegetables at him. He keeps charging B even after you chuck him off the edge of the screen over and over again. You ride your victories right into spaghetti and meatballs - it tastes amazing, especially the leftover parmesan blended into the leftover red sauce. It looks like it might be a snow day tomorrow, says Mom. I'll let you sleep in if school is cancelled.
You wake up in the middle of the night. The clock reads 3:14. You open the window and look outside - the streetlamps fall over the snow-covered streets. The snow is so high you can't tell where your front yard stops and the street begins. The snow glitters under the lights, and all the cars and houses you can see hover still under the snow. There's no way you're having school. You check your flip phone and there's a message on it from Alex - do you want to go sledding on the big hill tomorrow? Caroline, Julia and Anne-Hunter will be there. There's no way Alex will be up right now, but you text him anyway. Sure dude exclamation point! You have sleds in the garage. They go so fast and they can fit two people on them. You saw Anne-Hunter looking at you once in Science class. Maybe tomorrow, it will mean something.