Rap’s new anti-hero: unhinged, brutal and intense

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Album Review: Waka Flocka Flame - 'Flockaveli'

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Album Review: Waka Flocka Flame – ‘Flockaveli’

The man first spotted leering wild-eyed and bloodshot from the shadows in Gucci Mane’s ‘trap’ (aka crack factory) YouTube videos has somehow emerged as the trail-blazing anti-hero of the Deep South rap culture. How’s that then? Well, there was the smelling-salt effect of lead single [b]‘O Let’s Do It’[/b]. L-Don Beatz’ skeletal, malevolent sonics – which recall the brash, frill-free sound of heyday grime, powered by propeller hi-hats and black-hole snares – felt like they’d been waiting all their life for Waka’s regressive mumble.

It’s in the words and the delivery of a man for whom rapping was initially a pretty tentative concern amid a backdrop of morbid mayhem, or “drug dealin’ music, ay I influence,” as he ‘explains’. His lack of vocabulary and callous disregard for the parameters of traditional songwriting were instantly his greatest asset; he embodies gangsta rap’s distilled extremities.

His much lampooned ad libs, mostly comprising erratic rearrangements of his own name, lend a genuinely unhinged, brawling quality to everything he does. When he uses actual words, they resonate with a puncturing sense of directness and hyper-reality, underpinned by a thread of reckless black humour. “One shot, man down, his brains go ka-pow/Ow, that shit hurt, so don’t fuck around” he hisses with bloodcurdling frankness.

“Ever since they killed my nigga Travis/Start poppin’ pills and actin’ crazy” he repeats, in a deranged but revealing survivalist mantra. Although the giddy haunted-club charm of token stab at commerciality [b]‘No Hands’[/b] may have shifted most units, it’s far from Waka’s definitive work.

In an era where hip-hop’s undercurrent is resculpting a bleak new landscape of oblivion, the likes of trigger-pulling tribute [b]‘Bustin At Em’[/b] and ultimate calling card [b]‘Hard In Da Paint’[/b] recall a [b]‘…Teen Spirit’[/b]-style ignition point for ‘trap-rap’. Assembled by the album’s main beat-peddling prodigy, Lex Luger, they showcase a masterclass in reductionism; juggernauts of hulking, bruising, brick-to-skull intensity.

Jaimie Hodgson

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Watch Waka Flocka Flame – Fuck Dis Industry – (World Premiere) video