Your Choice Way

Babyface Ray - FACE Music Album Reviews

Babyface Ray - FACE Music Album Reviews
The Detroit rapper’s world is bleak and flashy in equal measure. On the followup to 2021’s Unfuckwitable, he’s getting better at balancing his opposing tendencies.

The opening song on Babyface Ray’s FACE starts out traditionally but ends with a curveball. The first half of “My Thoughts 3 / Pops’ Prayer” is a continuation of the song series the Detroit rapper has been producing since his 2017 mixtape Trillest—a combination of life advice, flashy status updates, and bittersweet memories of life in the streets, delivered in his trademark slur of a voice. What makes this iteration different is the prayer from Ray’s father that closes the song. The music stops and his billowing voice offers a plea for protection against malevolent forces: “I come asking Your choice blessings on my baby boy Ray… That you might wrap him up with Your love, Your grace, and Your mercy/Giving him protection, prosperity, and peace in a dark and dying world.” It’s an isolated moment within Ray’s catalog of steely Detroit street rap, but it looms over the entirety of FACE: Every designer-clothes flex and moment spent reveling could be his last. 

Ray’s father’s opening prayer also complements FACE’s epic scope, and not just in surface-level references (“I know heaven real, man/I done been to hell and back,” he says on the excellent single “Sincerely Face”). He’s been in the game for over a decade, and after the mainstream breakthrough of his 2021 EP Unfuckwitable, Ray is ready to show his growing range. At 20 tracks and nearly an hour in length, FACE often scans as The Essential Babyface Ray, a variety pack of beats from different subsets of hip-hop from Michigan and beyond. But unlike Unfuckwitable, most of Ray’s experiments here feel natural, and he’s given himself more time to spend in the comfort zone that endeared him to fans on earlier projects like 2019’s MIA Season 2. The balance between his street-rap origins and more conventional fare still isn’t perfect, but Ray is closer to finding his sense of equilibrium.

The same mismatch between beats that plagued Unfuckwitable lingers slightly here as well. That’s ironic, considering that Ray’s writing has a sharp sense of symmetry. He likes to stack good and bad thoughts one after the other in his verses, revealing an intimacy to his words that’s at odds with his tough-guy persona. At the end of his verse on “Overtime,” within four short bars, he darts from protecting his nephew on the cold streets of Detroit to touring the world and wearing clothes from the Japanese streetwear brand Human Made. He moves similarly through mid-album highlight “Me, Wife & Kids,” stuffing money into a blue Goyard bag while questioning what’s really driving his ambition (“Could be the paper or the percs, I been fucking itching”). Moods shift on a dime, from celebratory to paranoid to reflective—especially on songs like the heartfelt closer “Motown Music”—with Ray’s flat affect linking his non-sequiturs together like zip ties on a designer sneaker.

Ray’s world is bleak and flashy in equal measure, and an all-star team of guests and producers steps up to further flesh it out. FACE features more Michigan names in the credits than last time, and every feature from the Great Lake State plays to Ray’s strengths. He reunites with Icewear Vezzo on “6 Mile Show,” passing the baton like a hot potato over 808 Mafia and Southside’s wailing sirens. Producer Pooh Beatz decorates “Me, Wife & Kids” with a deep low end and whirring synths, creating a menacing swing for Ray to demolish. Flint mainstay Carlo teams up with Swedish producer and Sad Boy member Yung Gud on the standout track “Overtime,” the drums and piano meshing with the spacey instrumental underlay to create a vibe that’s weird and enticing.

“Overtime” is far and away the strangest song on FACE, but it isn’t the only moment where Ray navigates relatively new territory. Atlanta producer DJ Esco’s four placements mostly match the nervy energy of Ray’s best beat choices—“Tunnel Vision” and “Motown Music,” in particular, manage to be expansive without overwhelming Ray’s voice. Some of the album’s stabs at more mainstream-friendly production barely register. 808 Mafia and Southside’s menacing beat on the first half of “6 Mile Show” is undercut by an unnecessary ATL Jacob beat change that ruins the song’s atmosphere. “Blood, Sweat, & Tears” is more indistinct, and boring, than its twin verses from Ray and guest G Herbo deserved. A serviceable but completely unrelated Pusha T guest verse and Wiz Khalifa’s one-man weed nostalgia act waste the interesting beats and otherwise good verses on “Dancing With the Devil” and “Kush & Codeine,” respectively. These moments distract from Ray’s presence and feel less like songs than naked grabs at specific markets.

Thankfully, the handful of stumbles have little to do with Ray or his raps. Beneath his cold resolve, he shows a yearning to move to the next level of stardom, and the mix of regional styles never dilutes the essence of what makes Ray’s music great. FACE’s variety and grit put the album in conversation with his father’s prayer from the beginning: Ray is on the right track, and his legacy is slowly beginning to take shape.

Share on Google Plus

About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Babyface Ray - FACE Music Album Reviews Babyface Ray - FACE Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Tuesday, February 08, 2022 Rating: 5

0 comments:

Post a Comment