There’s a humorous coincidence to this review — well for me at least. Before listening to “When the Sky Turns Red” I watched a nearly four hour long Hbomberguy documentary about content creators who rip off other people wholesale instead of creating original work. He called a lot of well known YouTube channels and in the process described “reaction videos” as one of easiest and laziest ways to churn out new videos. He called them a “content mill.” There’s an infinite amount of things out there you can “react” to, and you’re not adding anything substantive or transformative to the original work in the process. You just make faces and go “oh wow” or “DAMN” while filming yourself watching a video. Some react actors are even more basic than that. When I typed “who is Joey Nato” into a search bar I didn’t expect the first result to be reaction videos.
To be clear I’m not saying Joey Nato is among the “Sss” rank of lazy content mills. He doesn’t churn out multiple new videos a day — it’s closer to a few per month. It feels like he actually finds things of interest to him and tries to say something entertaining to his audience about it. With over 600K subscribers it’s pretty clear he could do YouTube for a living, but the whole reason I searched “who is Joey Nato” was to find out which half of “When the Sky Turns Red” he was. Nato is a producer/singer while Crypt is the primary rapper of “Crypt & Joey Nato.” Maybe that was obvious since Crypt got first billing but as Harris Brewis might say “I did the research myself.”
I suppose it’s even more ironic that one of the songs on their album is called “Vlog This.” If you want to go much further down the rabbit hole, there are reaction videos reacting to this album. It’s so overwhelming that true content mills are getting in on the act. AI generated simulants of humanity are “reacting” while a corporation behind the scenes collects the revenue without ever paying anyone real a dime. Since I’m not Mr. Brewis I’m going to leave it to him to discuss the implications of that YouTube phenomenon, but we’re not that far removed from it happening to rap music either. In the near future entire albums will be recorded by generative algorithms and record labels will happily cut paying royalties to real people out of the equation altogether.
The ultimate irony here is that “Dirt on My Name” is a reaction SONG. Crypt is clapping back at all of his perceived enemies for saying the following things – 1.) You’re a mumble rapper, 2.) You’re a white dude, 3.) You stan Eminem and 4.) You’re a culture vulture. He took all of the hatred so personally he had to respond to it in song, although he’s not naming the names of his haters. It’s a bunch of generic “y’all” callouts. Perhaps he believes in the idea that mentioning them would give them undeserved attention, but since I had never heard of Crypt before this album, I at least wanted to hear who has been shitting on him so much that he had to clap back. Oh well. He’s fired up about it though and that’s the kind of passion AI rappers will be hard pressed to duplicate.
Joey Nato’s motto is “Life is 10% what happens to you & 90% how you react.” In that spirit I’m reacting to the “Art” music video right now. It’s clear it was filmed at the height of the pandemic given Nato is wearing a mask the whole time, although none of the extras portraying prisoners in orange jumpsuits are doing the same. It was clearly scripted and filmed in a professional manner though so I’m willing to bet everybody took COVID tests before and after shooting it. It adds an unintentional layer of humor to this review that I’m giving Crypt and Joey Nato credit for actually creating art while the hook of this song screams “FUCK YOUR ART” over and over. The beefy and bearded Crypt runs in wearing a red jumpsuit and tackles another inmate while rapping this:
“I’ll trash this shit
If you’re asking me to post it – I’m mad as shit
Want me to share it on my YouTube?
Well, screw you!
The only tube that you can get
is the one you shove inside your dick”
And there’s the final twist to this review — Crypt has an even bigger following on YouTube compared to Joey Nato. I’m slightly dumbfounded I had never heard of either one before listening to “When the Sky Turns Red,” but my only excuse is that I’m just not that into react content and that’s the majority of their videos. I’m not hating I’m congratulating because their channels are many magnitudes of order larger than mine. It doesn’t mean I’m going to start making reaction videos too. They can do what works for them and I’ll do me even if I’m smaller as a result.
The intro of “Triggered” sounds like the interludes of “Midnight Marauders,” which made me silently mouth the words “A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y“ as I was listening. Even though Crypt has talked about being ripped on for mimicking Eminem, it’s actually Tech N9ne that he reminds me most of stylistically. His ability to string quick couplets of words together in a single breath is unmistakably Tecca Nina’s trademark. If you’re going to react to something, react to something interesting; if you’re going to copy someone, copy somebody interesting. I don’t think Crypt is worthy of the amount of hate directed his way, but then again I don’t know if he’s “reacting” to real haters or inventing fictional ones to have something to rap about — which is fine too. “Fine” is my ultimate conclusion. Nobody reinvented the wheel on “When the Sky Turns Red.” It’s not a classic, it’s not trash, it’s fine. I think they’re making more money from reaction videos than music though.