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Fivio Foreign - 800 BC Music Album Reviews

Coasting on the success of last year’s “Big Drip”—which finds new relevance now that the phrase “demon time” is trending—the Brooklyn drill rapper shows personality but lacks focus.

Over the past few months, the phrase “demon time,” like so many pieces of localized language that eventually find their way online, has changed contexts. When Beyoncé graced the remix of Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” last week, the term found its way into the updated song’s most quotable bar: “Hips TikTok when I dance/On that Demon Time, she might start an OnlyFans.” The line is a reference to the virtual stages of an Instagram Live strip club where, in the midst of quarantine, celebrities like the Weeknd and Kevin Durant have tuned in to watch performers. It’s also a phrase popularized by Toronto rapper Tory Lanez on his Quarantine Radio live streams, where the nudity on his “demon time” segments became so constant that Instagram shut it down. But this game of digital telephone first started last summer with Fivio Foreign, who might have meant something slightly more sinister when he said he was on “demon time” on his breakout song, “Big Drip.”
Over the past eight months, the Brooklyn rapper has proven himself to be an expert at, to reference another one of his favorite words, creating “viral” moments. Though he’s been releasing music since the early 2010s, his borough’s adoption of drill—an aggressive sound that has itself morphed in context, from its origins in Chicago to its outposts in London, Brooklyn, and even Sydney, Australia—has made way for Fivio’s punctuated rapping and dramatic ad-libs to cut through in his hometown and beyond.
800 BC, Fivio Foreign’s first full-length mixtape, is mostly a collection of his biggest musical moments so far. There’s “Big Drip,” the rowdy anthem that has been out for close to a year and also appeared on his 2019 Pain and Love EP; the “Big Drip” remix, with verses from Quavo and Lil Baby; and “Wetty,” a long-teased single that seemed destined to be the next hit song from the Brooklyn drill scene. “Wetty” succeeds for many of the same reasons “Big Drip” did. On the two songs, both produced by London’s AXL Beats, Fivio brings an unruly, contagious energy to even the simplest ad-libs. The song’s refrain, “I met lil’ mama in the deli/She was a wetty,” is regionally specific and original—it’s a couplet that couldn’t come from anywhere but New York, and anybody but Fivio Foreign.

Still, at eight songs, the project feels lazily thrown together, with mostly forgettable songs placed around these previously released, big-ticket singles. Even when he brings bigger names into his defined sound, the results are stagnant. The verses from Quavo and Lil Baby feel like an unnecessary addition to “Big Drip,” and Fivio’s hook on “Demons & Goblins,” a collaboration with Meek Mill, sounds like it was filled in with predictive text from his most commonly used words. Similarly, “Ambition,” a song with Bronx rapper Lil Tjay, the only track on the project that deviates from the standard drill drum pattern, presents a muted version of both rappers’ strengths. One notable exception is “Issa Vibe,” a solo song where Fivio skillfully switches between melodic flows, introducing a captivating alternative to his usual hoarseness.

Fivio Foreign has Beyoncé repurposing his phrases and Drake borrowing from his lexicon on a drill song, “Demons,” right alongside him. The Brooklyn rapper has channeled his entertaining personality into impactful singles, but he has yet to prove himself able to hold his concentration long enough to command an actual mixtape, or even hint at what a quality version of a fuller Fivio Foreign project might look like. Instead, at least for now, these big moments, and the way they travel up the pop-culture pipeline, are the only things that seem to stick.

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