Alongside learning who got cut, we get a taste of what these rappers can cook up real quick when the pressure is on.
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Can’t Impress Everyone: Caleb, Sam Be Yourself
While the competition isn’t really made for niche rappers, there is a need to admit as much as people are pushed to have their own identity, to appease the judges, they work against themselves. Caleb Colossus, for example, uses auto-tune in his song, and you can tell that’s not him. And while T.I. liked the song, everyone else couldn’t get past his “A Little Bit Of Love” sample, which Big Pun used.
Then, with Sam Be Yourself, it seems Cardi really got into his head because his whole narrative now is about being a white rapper and trying to push past that. However, he can’t. Also, for some reason, even though no one has an album out yet, there are conversations about showing growth as if all of these rappers have been releasing mixtapes for years. As if, after cyphers, rap battles, and one music video, there is a need to worry their sound has gone stale.
Thus leading to Sam delivering a good song, since he is good on the production end, and even Cardi praises his performance, but the judges still feel uneasy about him. Leading you to wonder how much of it is the pressure of the competition and how much of it is just him? Much less, would he be more successful as a writer/producer than the actual artist? Never mind how much his ethnic background seems to be a key part of the judges’ commentary.
The Respect Of Your Peers Is Worth It All: Flawless Real Talk, Troyman, Londynn B, D Smoke
With these four, even D Smoke who forgot his verse, they are seen as ace. Troyman opens, and pretty much casts a shadow on every one since so many go for that fun, “PUT YOUR HANDS UP!” style. Well, outside of D Smoke, who always presents an alternative by worrying less about hook and more about telling a story in his verses.
This isn’t to downplay Flawless trying to do a love song or Londynn B trying to make it sexy, but, as Flawless says, in getting a bit desperate, we see what could be considered mistakes or flaws. The kind that makes it so, while many present decent songs, the kind you can hear on the radio, there remains this question if there can be a hit?
Once again, the show decides to use a cliffhanger, and Sam Be Yourself is on the bottom half. This time, however, he is joined by Caleb. Thus leaving you to question, will the person who has a sound that even his champion, TI, said he had to work on to be commercial move forward or the boy who the judges seemingly can’t get past being white and nerdy? Especially Cardi B?
Other Noteworthy Facts, Moments, and Random Thoughts
- Troyman samples: Darkest Light – Lafayette Afro Rock Band
- Caleb Colossus samples: A little bit of love – Brenda Russell
- Londynn B samples: I Wanna Do Something Freaky To You – Leon Haywood
- Sam Be Yourself samples: Hung Up On My Baby – Isaac Hayes
- D Smoke Samples: Atomic Dog – George Clinton
- Flawless Real Talk samples: What I Am – Edie Brickell
I don’t know if it is because he went first (the likely reason) or if because Troyman’s song and performance is in tune with what we know him for, but I’d say he is one of the most consistent of the show. Maybe not the best, by any means, but Troyman does feel like someone who lives up to expectations and isn’t trying to adapt to the taste or flavor of anyone. He is just doing his thing and, thankfully for him, while middle of the road, that is a term synonymous with the mainstream.
D Smoke Grows On You
The more I listen to D Smoke the more I realize he is the type of rapper you have to be in a certain mood to listen to. Much less, with him being a storyteller vs. someone trying to get you hype and party, you got to be ready to listen. With everyone else, honestly, you could never mind their lyrics half the time and just get off on the beat. D Smoke, on the other hand, he pushes you, forces you even, to take note his part on the record vs. the mixing and mastering done by the producer.
On The Fence
It’s Coming To The Point Where You Have To Ask: Do Any Of These People Really Stand Out?
One of the reasons I highlighted D Smoke is because he is an outlier. In the past, I took that as a bad thing and sort of felt he was boring because he did something different, but now I appreciate it. For as much as I like Flawless, Londynn B, and now Troyman, I can’t say if they took each other’s songs I’d raise an eyebrow. Each one of them has such a similar identity that, even with different voices and looks, it all melds together to the point they could easily be a group more than solo artists.
Yet, what do you expect from a show which is more so looking for a hitmaker, based on its judges’ tastes, than someone unique and who will more so set trends than follow long-established ones.