The history of Hip-Hop has been filled with crews and cliques that have had monumental impacts on the culture. Busta Rhymes career changing verse on the classic Tribe Called Quest song “Scenario” would be nothing without their collective The Native Tongue Family. Wu-Tang Clan’s “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)” launched the careers of several superstars and made industry history by having a group being signed to multiple individual label deals. Digging in the Crates crew crafted sounds for the deceased rapper Big L (R.I.P), underrated rapper O.C and last winter’s hit “All the Way Up” starring Don Cartagena himself, rapper Fat Joe. Duck Down Records Boot Camp Clique and its sub set The Fab Five blessed us with the underground classic “Leflaur Leflah Eshkoska”. Now we have A$AP Mob’s “Cozy Tapes Volume 2: Too Cozy…
What should have been an embarrassment of riches managed to be uninspired refuse. What is most frustrating to me is the fact artists with less have done more. This project was green lit by RCA, which is owned by Sony Music Entertainment whose war chest has to be massive. The production for the majority album is a series of snares surrounded by bass, wrapped around a white noise machine and sprinkled with random piano chords. I have never been hypnotized to a state of aggravation until now. For lack of a better word the sound is just plain lazy. You can make the argument that sample clearance can be difficult and costly, and I would say you are right; but they’re artists that will play instruments for a fraction of the cost. A case could be made that over produced songs overshadow the lyrical prowess and content of the emcee. That ain’t the case with “Too Cozy.” A$AP Rocky is phenomenal on this album and so is Ferg, but the fashion forward mainstream style maven whose little black book reads like a who’s who of the September Issue of Vogue could not save this project. Frankly, it’s not his fault because Jaden Smith, Gucci Mane, School Boy Q, Flatbush Zombies, Chief Keef, Lil Yachty, Big Sean, Joey Bada$$, Quavo, Frank Ocean, and Lil Uzi Vert couldn’t salvage it either despite valiant efforts. However, for the most part barring the artists mentioned the lyricism is elementary, unimaginative, and inundated with run of the mill criminal activity, materialism and misogyny. But wait; there are a few glimmers of light in the abyss.
On “Perry Aye”, A$AP Rocky gives us a lesson in alliteration describing his lifestyle and showing his appreciation for all things French. Jaden Smith steals the show. The legacy of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air gives a perfect chopped and screwed chorus. The radio ready “BYF” (Be Your Friend) has the Mob professing its love utilizing a catchy chorus to a significant other on a RnB beat. “What Happens” is great concept track asking what you would do in questionable and difficult situations. The star studded “RAF” is a joint dedicated to the emcee’s love for RAF Simmons Clothing.
The Cozy Tapes just don’t have enough memorable moments or enough quotables. It doesn’t have production that forces me to audio scrub my iPhone to figure out what effect was used, or what sound was distorted. “To whom much is given much will be required.” I just expected a higher quality product from established artists.