Song Title: “BUILT 4 THIS”
Album/Mixtape Title: BORN 2 SHINE
Album/Mixtape Release Date: DECEMBER 2012
The 15 track tape starts off with a song called “Mesmerized”, a tribute to the “Bluelight”. Almost like he is talking about a bad chick, Keyes talks about arriving to the studios, feeling real nice off a recently smoked blunt and seeing the booth, mic, and other various studio equipment giving him that feeling that he’s ready to go in. On “Habit” Keyes raps about his by-any-means-necessary mindset in his quest to get his money right. Everybody has their periods when they’re down bad, but it’s the way you bounce back that enables one to call himself a hustler. Any real dude doesn’t stay down long and Keyes reiterates this. “Bills on the table, bills on the floor” (not money but actual bills that need paid) an excerpt from the hook, is a situation everybody has felt and been through. Anybody that has kids can tell you the motivation and fifth gear that gives you to make your ends meet, so “Habit” not only functions as a banger, but as a motivational hustler’s anthem as well. The interlude “Limelight Too” is a hard hitting triumphant but street sounding song where Keyes talks about his champagne lifestyle and grind to get there. Although, Keyes obviously stopped to enjoy the result of his long grind on this one, he says “say a nigga livin good, say I’m livin alright”, showing he has only stopped for a Gatorade break and his grind is nowhere near over. He also mentioned while other dudes were worried about grabbing the hottest jerseys (when they were hot) and getting the latest sneaks, he was stacking his money in preparation for his long flight to “mars” and the stars above reaching his stardom. Although this was just basically a snippet, this was one of my favorites from the tape. “Lovers, Friends, Enemies” was another jam I liked because I can definitely relate to the concept of the song. Most people at one point in their life have had a girl that was just a friend and later became more, only to eventually not work and forever damage the friendship, and almost everybody can relate to either friends or family, doing some snake type grimey -like things to them becoming almost an enemy. This track perfectly illustrates both scenarios and you have to admire the realness and the sincerity the track however, I wasn’t really a big fan of the hook. It was on topic and effective in getting the point across, but lacked creativity and sounded sloppy at times. “Nothing 2 Lose” featuring Yng Mak,( an up and coming Pittsburgh artist), is a dark feeling, bass/snare driven song with a grimey feel sure to catch the ear of any street cat. With a braggadocios hook, Keyes and Yng Mak tag team the track not holding any punches. Yng Mak definitely made the most of his feature displaying his lyrical prowess, showcasing more than a couple nice punchlines; “ know I’m nice but talk down but they got they reasons, they hate me like Lebron when he go to Cleveland, sucka niggas booin real niggas screamin, the game looking sloppy imma do the cleanin”. (Yng Mak did his thing on this one)
In my opinion, the mixtape was mediocre to me, sounding very amateurish to me at points. On songs like” Rise Above”, the beat was nice and I started off bobbing my head, only to be deaded by the corny and unprofessional hook. I feel like the hook should have been spaced out on more vocal tracks so the vocals didn’t sound so rushed giving it its “amateurish” sound, and there’s a part of the song (comes in at 0:40) where he attempted to rhyme the word “options” with the word “obstacles” . He tried to rush “obstacles” in attempt to fit it in with the flow of the syllables and just…no. Should have just used another word or phrase to capture what he was trying to say. It may sound petty, but it’s the little things that make great mc’s. Hey, the great mc’s don’t do it, and the goal is to be great right? I also thought it was just uncreative and wack (for lack of a better word) to call two tracks on the same cd basically the same thing “ High” and “Super High”, both with the same feature by Jc of the Finest on the hook and both songs being relatively about the same thing. Besides a few other things that kind of rubbed me the wrong way along with the tape being “Soundclick.com” heavy (the beat production), the tape was cool. With some refinement and minor brush-ups this dude will be tight. 2.5/5
Keyes 2 Success from B. Keyes is, simply put, an enjoyable EP. There’s a definite “mainstream” feel to this project but the content is still very impressive and lyrically B. Keyes is certainly on point. This is not your average rapper’s mixtape, this is a solid effort from a determined MC who’s got a firm grasp on the hip hop game.
The tape starts off with the autobiographical “My Life” which is a perfect introduction to what’s contained in this EP, with references to coming up, putting in work, and the all around struggles of life. Following that is one of the highlights, “Big Dreams” with an epic hook and some incredible production from Idlabsbeats. Once again B. Keyes shows off his ability to flow as well as drop relevant lyrics, it’s the type of shit you actually pay attention to instead of just letting the track play, and that’s what a lot of rappers are missing these days. “Day By Day” is more of that hype shit, and again B. Keyes holds his own over some big production while continuing to come with memorable hooks and verses. “Glass In The Air” is easily the highlight of this album, with a stadium-ready beat and an even more epic hook than “Big Dreams”, plus it’s one of the most lyrical tracks on the album, pure hip hop in the verses, pure “get money” on the hook, the perfect combination. “Head To The Sky” is another banger with an R&B influenced hook, and the beat, while busy as all hell, works nicely for the song. The closeout track “In The Clouds” is a nice if slightly mediocre ending to what otherwise turns out to be a pretty solid mixtape.
The low points were few and far between but “Everything is Good” is certainly one of them, with semi-decent production that would probably carry the track if the hook wasn’t so draining, it just plain doesn’t sound good. “I Will” is decent but it kinda sounds like a T.I. throwaway and it’s one of the only tracks where B. Keyes sounds lazy when it comes to lyrical content.
What you should take away from Keyes 2 Success is that with the right formula, the sound of hip hop most likely heard in 2010 definitely has the potential to be fire. This is as modern an album as I’ve heard lately outside of the major labels, and it’s really quite impressive. There’s a real maturity here as this project is well put together and flows nicely. With really no truly skippable tracks it’s certainly one of the better records this year. I’d definitely recommend taking the time to check out this B. Keyes project as it’s very easy on the ears and as a bonus you get some real strong lyricism from an artist who really understands how to write a verse, and subsequently a song, and with the knowledge he drops, this EP truly does give you Keyes 2 Success. 3.5/5