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‘Mudboy:’ Sheck Wes tells a unique story, but the music doesn’t match the hype

‘Mudboy:’ Sheck Wes tells a unique story, but the music doesn’t match the hype

‘Mudboy:’ Sheck Wes tells a unique story, but the music doesn’t match the hype
October 13
21:39 2018

Sheck Wes is still relatively unknown, but those who know Wes knows there’s something special about him: He’s a 20-year-old Interscope Records signee with affiliation with Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack label. Kanye West wanted to be a part of Wes’ career after he heard the music, even though we have yet to see how.

Regardless of the connections, Wes is bringing a grimy, hardcore sound that has been void in rap music.

Leading into Wes’ new album “Mudboy” were three successful singles, one being placed on the “NBA 2k19” soundtrack. He has already toured with Playboi Carti, has made appearances on Drake and The Three Amigos tour and will be opening up Travis Scott’s “Astroworld” tour, alongside Gunna and Trippie Redd. Beyond music, he has been in ads for both Nike and Helmut Lang. With an affinity for the NBA, fashion and hip-hop, Wes is quickly becoming an undeniable force.

The impressive thing about Wes is his ability to make moshpit anthems while rapping about harsh realities — it’s very punk. On “Live Sheck Wes,” which people mosh to every time he performs the song, Wes raps:

It gets tragic where I live, everything is negative/
All the roaches in the crib, elevator full of piss/
Everybody grew up tough, bunch of diamonds in the rough/
Police ain’t never give a f**k, they just want us in them cuffs/

The “Mudboy” album cover resembles DMX’s “Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood.” There is also a griminess from DMX’s era felt in Wes’ music: He’s rowdy, yet conscious — over-the-top, yet personal. His voice breaks through the the beat whether he’s screaming or whispering, and there’s an energy that feels like Drill music or early Waka Flocka. Even though the energy is high, he’s still is attempting to deliver a message.

“It is amped-up, turn-up music,” Wes explained to Pitchfork. “But I hate ‘Live Sheck Wes’ because people get lost in the energy and not my message. I’m talking about some s**t!”

With such a brief introduction to Wes prior to this release, “Mudboy” gives us Wes sounds we haven’t heard before. On songs like “WESPN” and “Never Lost,” he has this whispery, half-singing, half-talking tone as he continues to tells his story. Both songs seem to have a switch from the past to his life currently, and with it comes a switch back to the hype sound we initially knew him for.

Throughout the album, we learn about the insane last three years of Wes’ life, in which he was stuck in Africa. He tells the story of his mom being concerned about his behavior, so she decided to send him to Senegal and take away his passport. She made him stay there until a religious leader he had to meet with every day believed he was ready to come back home.

On “Jiggy On The Sh*ts,” Wes explains his emotions while he was trapped in Africa before switching to rapping in Wolof (the language of Senegal), according to Rap Genius. There’s a “Catcher In The Rye”-esque vividness to every line:

17 years old, I’m in this country alone/
I got no ID or passport, I’m the only livin’ John Doe/
I’ve been roamin’ these streets, I been roamin’ them alone/
In my eyes I see they [their] fucked up world, in they eyes they see a palace and a home/

The best tracks of the project are the singles released prior to “Mudboy.” “Mo Bamba,” “Live Sheck Wes” and “Chippi Chippi” have feelings of excitement that isn’t found anywhere else on the album. Songs like “Kyrie” and “F*ck Everybody” obviously strives to match these anthems, but they don’t quite make it. These album cuts lack the excitement, even though the energy is still there. It just becomes underwhelming as the album plays out.

There’s a truthful story being told as Wes creates music to mosh to. For a debut album, there is great content and some important lessons embedded. However, Wes tweeted that he executive produced the album himself, and while there are highlights, being his own executive producer makes some moments feel amateurish — he is still a rookie. If he had help from Travis, Kanye or Mike Dean, some of the underwhelming moments in the latter half of the project may have been brought to a higher level.

My Rating: 3/5

Featured Image: Courtesy Facebook

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Xavier Spurlock

Xavier Spurlock

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