South Africa has not had a solo break-out superstar in Hip Hop for a while now. Could Blxckie be the one to end the drought? Many people seem to think so. Many more are still trying to figure out where to place him and how to classify him. Packed into a neat 12 tracks, his debut album aims to smash all attempts at boxing the young trapper.
B4Nnow has a beautiful theatrical opening that opens the way to Blxckie telling the story of his come up. Those of us that did not know the signing side of his talent get a front row experience on the intro, Mama It’s Bad, as he poetically captures his experience after moving to Jo’burg to kick-start his career. His performance on the intro carries the right emotions to go with what he has to say and that’s what makes it land as one of the strongest songs on the album.
Past that touching opener is a mix of Trap, Kwaito/Amapiano and a dash of RnB. It’s not usual to get this kind of range from a rapper on his debut. What Blxckie went for is what most artists only put out when they’re going for a cross-over. There is a good side and a bad side to the range he showed on the album. The songs where he incorporates melodies and singing are much better quality than where he’s trapping. And that speaks to his strong point.
Even though the trap songs pale in comparison to his singing, judged on their own merit, they are a good set of songs. It’s his chance to get ratchet. That I-got-money-coming, I-chow-your-girl-when-I-please type of ratchet. And more claims to have come over here on a space ship. The delivery leaves much to be desired but his lines get you to listen out for what more he has to say. One song that is easily skippable is Big Time Sh’lappa. That’s just some noise that one can only bear to hear as little as possible. Yet one of the most popular singles put out ahead of the album release.
He can't shake that he bears similarities to some established artists. It's a trait that puts his actual talent with composition to the test. What's dope is that he manages to be distinct in how he packages his music. It remains to be seen how he will set himself further apart as he develops his craft.
The features were kept to a minimum with only Flvme, Lucasraps and Nasty C making appearances on the album. It is always good for an artist to showcase what they are about on their debut and this does just that. Even so, the cosigns Blxckie is getting from the game speak volumes of the support he has.
Pen? Good with it. Well he says he doesn’t write his raps down, lays them bar by bar as they come instead- but his “writing” indicates talent that’s to be taken seriously. If he can have Mama It’s Bad, David and Hold on his debut project, he definitely has a lot more in store for his future work. It’s impressive how he addresses vulnerabilities in a meaningful way. David is a perfect such example. On it he opens up about the difficult choice that had to be made on who gets to progress - him or Leo. The story is encapsulated within a melodic chorus where Blxckie gives a stark reminder that he's not to be played with. He displays the same confidence again on Sika, which is a celebratory, victory lap-type of joint. Blxckie is well aware of his skill and his success and he's not afraid to show it.
B4Now has the same polarising feel as a concept album. It might manifest more along the age divide. Some of what Blxckie has to say gets lost in the mumble. Would it be Trap without that, though!? With the amount of music Blxckie says he has in the tuck, another project might come in quick succession depending on the feedback he gets from this album. Nonetheless, B4Now is a strong debut that puts Blxckie in the game as more than just a trapper but a multidimensional artist as well.