Four tracks into “me vs me” I decided to Google the name Yung Fazo to see what information I could learn about the “Yung” man. The first result was SoundCloud. I realize the term “SoundCloud Rap” has become derogatory to a lot of older heads, but that also exemplifies the generational divide with younger heads who grew up both streaming music and making music. They came of age in a whole new lane that had never existed before, and at times I feel like the negativity toward “mumble rap” comes not from its sound, but from the fact these young people found their success without paying the same dues the generation before did. It’s thinly disguised jealousy.
That’s why despite the fact I have more in common with Abe Simpson than I’d care to admit, I do the damn thing every week at RapReviews.com the best way I can. For me that way is being open-minded about what artists are doing today, even if sounds so far removed from Chuck D, Ice Cube, KRS-One and E-40 that it’s barely recognizable as the same genre. That’s why I’m sitting here listening to “me vs me” right now and writing about it for you. Being pushed outside of your comfort zone is a good thing. It’s the only way we can grow as human beings. If we only stick to the things we know we like, not only do we stagnate intellectually, we deny ourselves the possibility of discovering NEW things to like. Think about the first time you tried a new cuisine and how good it was. Would you have wanted to go your entire life having never savored that flavor? Isn’t your life better for having another favorite in it?
So I can report this old head found himself bopping his head to both “ttwlg” and the sequel, and if you’re wondering that stands for “this the way life goes.” The first version goes thanks to prblm & brokeboitaylor, and the second replaces prblm with B87. It’s undoubtedly thanks to brokeboitaylor that the two tracks sound so similar, with a heavy muddy bass that’s more distinguishable than the lyrics, and a change of speed in the middle of the track to freshen the presentation. Fazo sounds like he’s been inhaling helium before rapping, especially compared to guest star Raeusi on “ttwlg 2,” but remarkably it doesn’t irritate me.
There’s a vibe to tracks like “dowhatido” that shows how intimately comfortable Fazo is with the mumble rap sound. Hearing how he and brokeboitaylor play with the sound of the track and the vocals makes it more interesting than run-of-the-mill SoundCloud rap. “Trying new things” applies to artists as well. If the mumble genre gets stale then the young audience will run from it to something fresher and newer. That’s just the way the world is. Fazo seems to be working to reinvent the formula his own way.
I can’t say Fazo maintains that vibe for the entire half hour though. While 16teen provides an able beat for “motion,” Fazo’s over-modulated vocals jump up and down an octave for no reason, and the violent and misogynistic lyrics he spits are a turn off. It’s up to guest star Dom Corleo to hold down the weight of the track, and he almost pulls it off. This one would have been better with him riding solo. “honest” doesn’t even have a guest so there’s no saving it. Fazo keeps saying over and over “you can’t live like me” and while most of the time he’s got that swag, on this track no one would want to be. Hey I’m being honest too.
Yung Fazo has some good ideas on “me vs me” that could push the envelope of SoundCloud rap, and even when he falls back into cliche or relies too heavily on pitch correction, the production largely pulls him through to the other side. It’s not an album where gems are going to be dropped, unless they just fall out of an icey chain, so don’t go in expecting to have your mind expanded. I’m not completely sold on Fazo just yet, but I’m also not ready to write him off as the latest version of overdone tropes that are ready to be retired. Let’s see what he does next after this.