Roughly one year ago, Philadelphia born rapper Armani White dropped “Billie Eilish”, a infectiously viral song that bolstered his young career and brought his name into the mainstream. Titled after the pop megastar of the same name, this high-energy hit opened with the lines, “Bitch I’m stylish / glock tucked, big t-shirt, Billie Eilish”. Referencing the “Happier Than Ever” sensation’s baggy fashion in this way and backing it with an intriguing, flavorful beat, was catchy and clever, something plenty of music fans agreed upon.
As vibrant and effective of a track as “Billie Eilish” was when it initially dropped – both as a standalone banger and a viral pull into the rest of White’s work – it now poses the same question that many seemingly out of nowhere hits ask of their creators: is the hype around Armani White sustainable? The answer to this question will soon be apparent as White has recently released a new EP, giving fans something fresh to vibe to and examine when listening beyond the glock tucked and the big t-shirt, so to speak.
This new EP, “Road To Casablanco”, does indeed give a few doses of artistic promise from White. However, the primary elements he uses to build this project are not in themselves sufficient for keeping it strong and able.
The things White does best on “Casablanco” may initially sound simple but they are vital sources of the project’s personality and cohesiveness. His ability to maintain a thread of sonic similarity throughout many of the tracks on this EP, for example – particularly in such a way that multiple elements of the beats and the flows of his rapping are heard in synocracy from one song to the next – is a key reason that this project is able to offer what it does.
Examples of this are found across the aforementioned “Billie Eilish”, as well as the tracks “Silver Tooth” and “Big Bet”, all tracks where both the beats and White’s words take on a smooth but winding nature – something of an attempt at slightly more exotic grooves and chords – without becoming bogged down or overly complicated.
Additionally, White’s own singular style, from the running but steady patterns of his rapping that often suggest he is anxious to get every word out, but only in an orderly fashion, to the often playful inflections of his voice, are in themselves noteworthy by way of their memorable nature, enthusiasm and brashness. These qualities were a sizable part of what made “Billie Eilish” such a hit, and they surely contribute to the rest of this EP in the same way.
Nevertheless, “Road To Casablanco” doesn’t feel like an entirely fleshed out record. While there are rallies of victory and self-assuredness on the project, such as “Proud of Me” and “Goated”, the latter attempts to get the EP rolling in a way that doesn’t quite flow by means of the same vein as what’s to follow, both in terms of its static hook and overall dry tone.
Denzel Curry’s feature on this track is yet another capable showing for the artist but sadly does not do much to save the piece. Even with a top tier MC like Curry coming in hot on the mic, a boring beat simply takes the track a step back and hearing the monotonous repetition of “Goated, goated, goated, goated,” etc., every time simply leaves the listener desperate for some flavor.
Armani White’s lyrics are also quite often without any meaningful merit, something that is made particularly obvious on “Rob Your Ex”, and again on “No Mistakes”, both tracks that are interesting as ideas but sparse in both interesting verses and structure.
There is certainly a possibility for Armani White’s further development and success as an artist. The weaknesses that hold him back the most, however, are certainly not easy ones to overcome.