This is the rawest album of the year. That’s the only way I can really open up the review to Waka Flocka Flame’s debut, Flockaveli, an album that holds up against anything else released this year thus far. Something I wanted to address here early on is the fact that despite being labeled crunk, this album shares as much in common with It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot or Bacdafucup as it does with Crunk Juice or anything in Pastor Troy’s discography. Waka spent the first nine years of his life in Queens, New York, where he was introduced to many of the local heroes and aspiring rappers of the time. His last fourteen years in Riverdale, Georgia helped define who he is as a person, and also gifted him with the harsh Southern twang he possesses; however, his incentive on this album is far less about getting the club jumping and mostly about kicking doors down and busting heads.
The fact that this is a mainstream rap album is still quite a feat in 2010. At a time where gangsta rap is being declared as dead, at least amongst the popular concensus, with the most credible gangsta rappers conforming for their albums, Waka Flocka Flame stands out amongst the crowd with an album as loud, and abrasive as anything we’ve heard in years. He’s scored three hits that left the charts feeling his impact, two of them being street anthems that were floating around for a year by the time people caught on (O Let’s Do It and Hard In The Paint), while the other one was a strip-club anthem that still managed to be unconceivably hard (No Hands, also the first single that Waka actually enlisted guests for instead of riding solo). However, in a time when rap is dominated by alternative stoner-rap, rappers that sing all their hooks, Eminem, Jay-Z, Lil’ Wayne, and anyone the latter two co-sign, it’s quite odd hearing someone scream when my little brother died I said FUCK SCHOOL following Drake’s Find Your Love.
Flockaveli is arguably one of the most anticipated debuts of the year (in a way, it’s the street-equivalent of Thank Me Later when you take hype and love it or hate it status amongst listeners), and for the first time in recent memory, a rapper’s released an introductory album that’s going to be hard to top on subsequent releases. One of the biggest things Flocka has going for him is the fact that he discovered the producer of the year, the 19 year old Lex Luger, who produced the majority of this album. Everyone on the boards behind this album deserves a goddamned award for Flockaveli, but Lex Luger’s production gives this album a consistency that’s rarely heard anymore, especially in the mainstream where people are still striving to collect all of the hottest producers for their upcoming project. Lex really took off this summer with the deadly duo of tracks he produced, BMF and Hard In The Paint; however, he doesn’t slow down at all. I’d be inclined to say that on Flockaveli, Lex has grown even more as a producer, the soundtracks that he provides Waka here as ominous and brooding as anything he’s ever done before.
Considering the fact that Waka’s mentor is one of the most materialistic, and colorful characters to ever grab the microphone, it’s amazing to hear how much of a stark contract Waka’s music has become to Gucci’s, especially if you’re comparing this with The Appeal. Waka is certainly nowhere near Gucci’s level when it comes writing, diversity, and most of Gucci’s creative qualities. Waka honestly isn’t that creative; he’s a pretty basic writer, which works exclusively in his favor. Waka’s brand of music isn’t meant to be complex, or enlightening; you’re supposed to curb stomp babies and kick puppies listening to this shit. You’re supposed to shoot your trifling bitch point blank in the face. God forbid, if anyone tries to threaten your life, you send them a first class ticket to Lucifer. There’s a reason why Waka Flocka’s concerts tend to end in bullets and bloodshed. This is fight music, murder music, this is as negative and offensive as anything you’re going to hear in any genre.
That’s why people’re eating this up. Flockaveli provides the rap game what it’s been missing, and Waka Flocka acts as the general for a gang of weed-carriers, providing some of the most memorable hooks your ears will ever have the pleasure of listening to, and making you forget that most of the guests on this album merely there to cushion Waka’s flaws. I’ve heard people complain that there are too many guests here, but Waka’s shortcomings are pretty obvious; it’s for the best that he incorporated all of his homies here, so he had more time to focus on each verse he laid and hook he crafted. His delivery is key among all the menacing synths and piercing drums; even when he delivers nothing but adlibs, which is often, his voice is powerful enough to knock fuel tankers off the road.
I can’t really get into individual tracks; Flockaveli is meant to be listened to a whole collective of work. There are obviously stand-outs here, such as the songs where Waka genuinely gets deep and reflects on some of obstacles he’s faced leading up to this point in his life. I’ve talked about most of these songs before; I still get chills anytime Waka mentions his brother, a subject that makes me feel both intimidated and uncomfortable whenever he brings it up. When Flocka spits damn I miss my brother, they wanna see me under/disprepect my mother, and you’re gonna MEET MY BROTHER on the surprisingly insightful Fuck Dis Industry, it’s probably one of the most effective threats I’ve ever heard in my life, a haymaker of a punchline that tugs at your heart while simultaneously making you soil your underwear. That’s a powerful effect; Waka is equally frightening on the 2Pac-esque For My Dawgs, where Waka channels Shakur’s soul to make a paranoid anthem over the most left-field beat on this album, produced by Cedric “Yayo” Herbert. Yayo’s beat is like some mid-90s Gravediggaz shit, sounding like it’d be as appropriate for horrorcore as it is for Waka’s paranoia-fueled bars, and relentless battle cries of loyalty. This is one of he songs where the title Flockaveli feels most fitting; this album carries the same angst and paranoia that The 7 Day Theory was basked in.
Snakes In The Grass and Karma sound like what Michael Myers has on his playlist, bumping in his earbuds beneath the mask and jumpsuit he has on; not ironic considering that Waka released a mixtape last year virtually created around that concept. This music creeps at such a slow paced; even though Flocka has that Ak-47 delivery, Lex’s prodution plays a perfect contrast to that, including church organs and bells that make this the perfect score to “sitting alone in the alters during a thunderstorm.” Not that many people who listen to Waka are going to be there for any purpose other than to throw their fists in the air as they yell obscenities as a statue of the Virgin Mary holding Jesus.
Live By The Gun has a beat that reminds me of the Jaws-theme, although it’s missing Mozart’s Requiem that was transitioned into this song in the music video some months ago. G-Check and TTG are both gang-related bangers that will having gangbangers (see what I did there? it wasn’t that clever, admittedly) and white boy twistin’ fangerz, throwing up sets. Grove St. Party is a personal favorite, and I can’t get this fucking song out of my head. This song should be played at every Halloween party this year. Throw in Fuck The Club Up for good measure. Even the song I thought I’d dislike, Young Money/Brick Squad, with Gudda Gudda (who still sucks), is fantastic; I especially enjoy how Waka added Gudda’s name to his adlibs in the beginning of this song. I guess Gudda’s supposed to be like the Waka of YM’s crew - that’s not saying a lot for YM.
This album is long, but it never loses steam. I have listened to this album going on ten times since it became readily available to me. I pre-ordered it, and it’s going to be here on Tuesday; even though it’s probably going on the whip and never leaving it. Flockaveli is everything I wanted it to be and more; I honestly haven’t been this impressed by an album all year. No, he’s not lyrical, no, he’s not political, no, he’s not sensitive. He doesn’t need to be. Waka Flocka Flame represents everything that the backpackers hate, and that’s even more reason why I’ll ride with him till the end. If you’ve been following Flocka since Salute Me Or Shoot Me, and thought he may’ve been going in a different direction since LFJ2, this’ll dismiss those thoughts. If you don’t like loud music - stay far away. You’re not worthy of listening to it anyway.