Ski Mask The Slump God – ‘Stokeley’ review

Across 13 eclectic tracks, we hear from the persona Ski Mask and the man Stokeley, the wordplay and flow meticulous, the rapper rounding off a breakthrough year in style

Ski Mask The Slump God has rounded off a breakthrough year (his single ‘Catch Me Outside’, originally released via SoundCloud, went Gold last month) with something his fans truly desired – his first ever album. The Floridian rapper’s debut is called “Stokeley”, a reference to his real name, Stokeley Goulbourne, suggesting there is something raw and intimate about the record.

‘Stokeley’ is full of genre-blending, blurring lines between rap and the likes of rock and R&B. This experimental and alternative sound is signature to Ski; he has always combined intricate, disparate components to create fresh and innovative songs, resulting in the cult following he now has. On previous songs such as ‘Did You Really’ and ‘Like a Soccer Mom’, he sampled nostalgic ’90s cartoon soundtracks (think Ed, Edd, and Eddy and Codename: Kids Next Door), an indication of his magpie approach. On this album, he interpolates the introduction from Snoop Dogg’s ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ into the track ‘Foot Fungus’, and on opening track ‘So High’ even deploys his soulful, crooner-like singing voice.

His wordplay and flows are meticulous. ‘Reborn to Rebel’ is a political song on which the rapper addresses attitudes that young people have towards authority: “So if the government don’t give a shit, you can’t stay mad again / ‘Cause we already feel the same way about how they handle shit”. On some tracks, the persona Ski Mask uses countless similes and metaphors to boasts about his wealth and how he could take your girlfriend. But we also hear from Stokeley, who speaks as a young black male in a society in which he has run into trouble with the law. Across the record, these personas unite to elevate the issues many have with the system, using the voice of Stokeley and the platform of Ski Mask The Slump God to encourage others to speak up as well: “Whenever you can make a difference, yell it out, don’t mumble it”.

Across 13 tracks, Ski Mask makes us feel empowered to speak out against the system, or simply move and groove to his word olympics. With its inventive lyrics and eclectic style, this album is a response to anyone that claims mumble rap is often incoherent and contains little depth. As he says on “LA LA”, “This ain’t that… that ain’t this” – and the contrariness, the complexity, is compelling.