“They don’t know the code — I don’t know these hoes.”
The wisdom of BIGBABYGUCCI y’all, as presented for your perusal on the song “Red Jag,” from his latest release “Soda & Syrup.” It’s hard not to be in my feelings when listening to BBG. It’s no fun to talk down on a young man succeeding in the cutthroat music game. Maybe it’s fun for the readers when cynical middle aged critics stand there yelling at clouds. “In my day rappers used to rap, not sing! They used to actually have something to say!” Well there’s two myths we should bust right now. I remember KRS-One singing on the title track of “Criminal Minded.” Plenty of rappers crooned for fun. Sure they didn’t do it all the time for a whole LP but it wasn’t entirely uncommon to hear it done. Second of all there have been PLENTY of rap songs about nothing. What’s “Rapper’s Delight” about? How fly they are, how cool they look, and a little segue into how bad the food is at a friend’s house. It’s not that deep or profound. Let’s be real.
If you’re going to bust on BIGBABYGUCCI for either of those two reasons it’s possible you’re only looking at things on the most surface level. It’s easy to be a hater, and people love hate, because that’s what drives the algorithm of social media. I don’t have anything against Mr. James Haley personally though. I’d prefer if nothing I have to say about “Soda & Syrup” held him down in any way. I’d like him to succeed beyond his own expectations. I want to see him “dating the models and getting the money” as he says himself on “Living with Passion.” Not only can his success make his life better, it gives him the opportunity to make life better for others. He can help out his family. He can make an economic impact in his community. He can use his platform to help other up and coming artists rise. There’s plenty of reason to want him to shine.
All that said I’ve tried twice now before “Soda & Syrup” to understand BBG’s appeal, and the third attempt isn’t progressing much better than the first two. I don’t have an automatic dislike of rappers who AutoTune or pitch correct their lyrics. I do have a dislike for when they lean into it so hard you can’t even tell they are human any more. BIGBABYGUCCI goes extra nearly every time. Even songs with an appealing instrumental and thump like “Woke Up in a Lear” feel like they’re being created in a mad scientist’s lab. I’d like to hear him and not the BBG robot.
There’s no immediate objection to his subject matter either. Who doesn’t like having sex, spending money, eating well, and living lavishly? C’mon. It’s not his lack of depth lyrically so much as his lack of depth spatially here. Out of 11 songs none are longer than 2:45, so you can blow through this album in less than 25 minutes. That would be impressive for a Wario Land speedrun but it doesn’t amount to much music to sink your teeth into, whether his topics were profound or inane. It makes you wonder what you can do while listening to BBG. Gym? Too short for that. Gaming? Way too short for that. Cooking? Probably. There are meals you can make that fast.
Rap has always changed from one generation to the next, and the previous generation often dismisses those changes as not being “real hip-hop.” The bottom line here is that BIGBABYGUCCI is real hip-hop, whether it’s for me or not, but given his popularity I’m not giving up on trying to find his appeal just yet. At the present time “Soda & Syrup” sounds a lot like anything else of his I’ve sat down to review. The good news is that means I don’t hate him. The bad news is I’ve got no reason to go out of my way to play his music in my off time. He doesn’t do it for me yet, but I’m happy that he has an audience that gets it, and I wish him and them nothing but the best going forward.