REVIEW: BAS “TOO HIGH TO RIOT” ALBUM

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New York Hip Hop artist Bas has been signed to J.Cole’s record label Dreamville since 2014 and has released his sophomore Too High to Riot album on March 4.th   Although he is associated with J.Cole he seems to be underrated for now that is, just like the majority of the artists signed to Dreamville but that doesn’t stop him from, creating his own brand of that real talk hip hop we all know and love J.Cole for. Too High To Riot adds in bits and pieces of Bas’ childhood and come up with his current life in hip hop and the light production has some dreary smooth bases underneath while still giving off those dark late night vibes in almost every song. With that being said Bas seems to stick to the same theme throughout the entire project without any stand outs in production which is both a good and a bad thing. The main subjects that Bas raps about in this project are include his success, drugs, hardships, and sadness. “Live For” is one of the more sad records on the project in which he speaks about his aunt passing away from cancer and how it was a way of him being hurt by someone he loves. It starts out with muffled like production echoing plastic-like tapping and beating with hints of those auto tuned kiddie hiccup voices followed by a consistent delivery by Bas. He also touches on getting used to the richer lifestyle he has now because he was so used to being poor and also speaks about the contradictory nature of the government in the same song, as they preach about peace but also promote wars which to be honest does not entirely fit in with overall concept of this particular song. It seems like Bas is unable to dive deep into his songs but likes to combine different concepts into one song which can be confusing or to him these concepts are related in some way. The track “Penthouse” starts out with some quicker verses by Bas talking about how his religion helped him get out of the hood, how he sometimes creates a different personality in order to get women to sleep with him, and how he is afraid to trust people. What I like the most about this song is how he acknowledges him and his label mates at Dreamville still paying their dues in hopes that someday people will notice them and their music more.

Then we get tracks like “Methylone” and “Dopamine” where Bas’ relates to drugs. The opening production on “Dopamine” gives you those early morning vibes with those hollowed muffly piano keys followed by ticking clock noises and alarm bings as the first verse kicks in with some stringy low violins as Bas’ starts to drag out and sing a bit of his lyrics as he references the movie Platoon. The second verse is handled by fellow label mate Cozz as he talks about a younger him who was working at a job he hated just to make money and how he could have easily quit and relied on his family members to support him plus a monthly welfare check. Despite all of his problems he feels trapped at his job but has to work anyway. The hook of the song relates to the drug dopamine as it is pleasure seeking narcotic, but Bas seems to twist its meaning into saying that you don’t need it to feel happy even at your lowest points. The rest of his verse in the song speaks on his struggles to financially aid his family which includes his ill mother and cousin who have suffered way too much to not be cured yet. “Black Owned Business” is one of the more social issue oriented songs that starts out with scratchy static-like production and gives off a more laid back vibe as Bas comes in with his rapping. The song first speaks on Bas being one of the many black Americans to have overcome the stigma African Americans have been put under with their reputations of coming from low socioeconomic classes. Having toured with J.Cole, Bas has seen many people like him who are struggling in that sense and some of those same people have goals and others don’t. The rest of the song is Bas advising these same people that they can do so much more with their lives regardless of the common stereotypes that join black youth, some of which he speaks about like having tinted windows causes suspicion, and how many black fathers are incarcerated and not able to raise their kids as a result. The track “Housewives” starts out with halting vampy violin production that continues throughout the song with tacky drumming as Bas compares his haters to housewives as they have nothing better to do then talk about him and believe that he is failing. He backs this up with how far he has come from dropping out of college to which he got a scholarship for and thanking rapper Ab Soul for letting him open for him on his 2014 tour. He also talks about the interesting concept of the thin line that exists between fame and sinning which can break you in the music industry. “Ricocet” is a more slightly jazzy and dreary soulful track where singing is incorporated by an unknown female voice. It starts out however with a thought provoking statement that is pretty much saying that as life goes on, finding confidence with your specific views in life becomes harder as you seen new things change the way you’ve always viewed things. Bas relates to this by missing a girl a he’s been kicking it with but she hasn’t been around for the past few months and gets reminded of this when he sees six month old blunts in his ashtray. He also talks about loosing innocence as you grow up and go through life and how he wants his fans to use his lyrics as inspiration to follow their intuition, which to him is greater than the fortune he can get in return.

Overall Bas’ Too High To Riot project is okay, it’s a very quick listen and would work great as background music for a chill session with friends. The problem with the record is that Bas lacks cohesion with some of his songs where it can go from talking about the average hip hop nonsense of bitches and partying but then also talks about serious stuff within the span of one song. Bas unfortunately does not get into those important topics as much as he should to create an impact with his music. The album as a whole is a great project for the amount of time it lasts and does have some good songs with some impressing lyrical content here and there that is perfect for car ride or just to relax to and for that reason you should definitely consider giving this a listen as Bas does have potential of making more good music in the future.

Author: Navi.M ~ Contributing editor