UPPRLVLS – 90’s BABY [Review]
Vancouver, BC – Continuing the momentum after the release of the WHOISJOHNDOE mixtape, John Doe and the rest of the UPPRLVLS team drop their latest 18-track-mixtape titled 90’s BABY. The mixtape combines the sultry sounds of the late-80’s-early-90’s with hard-hitting heavy bass and modern production styles.
Upon the first listen it would be easy to dismiss 90’s BABY as “unimaginative, repetitive swag-rap” and skip the album entirely. Hearing the words “blunt”, “bitch”, “drink”, “money”, weed” within the first few minutes would be more than enough to deter any hip-hop head who values lyricism and originality – however, after warming up to the overall vibe of the mixtape and giving it the benefit of the doubt 90’s BABY becomes an entertaining experience for anyone with a pulse, a 6-pack and a sack of weed on hand.
The UPPRLVLS realize they’re not Talib Kweli (at least we hope they do) and none of them are trying to mesmerize us with any acrobatic, artistic wordplay like a 90’s Jay-Z or Nas might have done in the past. This mixtape is not lyrical. Now that we have that out of the way we can focus on what the raps do and do well and how they pair with the production. The laid back beats and smooth jazz samples are a perfect fit for the sluggish off-beat rhymes delivered throughout the mixtape. “With a J in my mouth ready lit/ You ain’t a G you a fake really bitch” from “B.Y.O.C” is so amusing, you can’t hold back a sarcastic smile but it really fits the overall vibe so well.
90’s BABY isn’t in a hurry to go anywhere. The opening song, for example is a 5 minute instrumental with little to no variation at all and sets the tone for the smoke-fest ahead. The mixtape feels like it’s designed to be a trip down memory lane for smokers who just want to kill an afternoon and roll blunts on their couch. “Califonication/ east side education/ hangover medication/ rollin’ up my vegetation” from “Cruella De Vil” pretty much sums up the entire 55 minutes in one bar.
The mixtape includes tracks from John Doe, Willy B., and Mr. Spacely with original chopped-and-screwed samples by Madonna, Crystal Waters, the Eurythmics and Sade laced throughout the tape to stimulate a retro vibe. Experimental and unconventional production choices such as 6-8 minute remixes with no rapping at all and almost half a dozen songs under 2 minutes wouldn’t have worked on most other full length efforts but the “I don’t sweat ‘em, I’ma let ‘em come to me” vibe of 90’s BABY allows for such bold moves to exist and be enjoyed.
Written by Max Dishaw for HipHopCanada
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