Waka Flocka Flame is the quintessential Goon Rapper. An incompetent lyricist with a simple flow, Flame is an unflappable hook machine with a decent ear for beats. In 2010, he found himself on many 2010 year end lists with Flockaveli, an intended mixtape – turned – album, that proved that once again many Hip hop heads were ready to forego hot lines and slick flows for Crunk style beats and ignorant fun.
And now we have Benjamin Flocka, the 2nd mixtape of 2011 from Flame. After Salute Me Or Shoot Me 3, a soupy mess of limp conflicted gangsta clichés and tagged up club bangers, Flocka attempts to center himself by returning to what he knows best: insanely fun, addictively scream-able hooks over minimalist, trunk knocking beats. Tracks from Salute Me or Shoot Me 3 are here in a less tagged form. “Clap” produced by Southside Beatz is mixed more professionally, the gothic synth lines brought to the forefront over its simple Dirty South drum pattern. Waka’s nursery rhyme, earworm chorus is free of the tags, disorienting drops, and demands to “Turn that back!” that made it a less cohesive song the first time around. Still, many of the tracks that were recycled from Salute Me Or Shoot Me 3 do not fare as well. “Watch My Power Spread” is still too long a slog and the chorus is a 8 bar load of bullshit about wearing red and green clothes, it’s cumbersome and unwieldy- even as Bricksquad crew member Wooh Da Kid drops his best verse to date.
The new tracks make the best argument that Flame may be able to still eke out an existence in Hip Hop without Lex Lugar constantly holding his hand. UK Beatmaker Southside Beatz handles some of the better production on Benjamin. Standout track “Kill The Parkin’ Lot” is monolithic, with its hard driving, bass drum heavy beat and it’s fantastic chorus, while Murky strip club night banger “Spazz out” is close to delivering the same satisfaction as Flockaveli’s single “No Hands”.
Like some of the best of Waka’s output, it’s a decent addition to his goon rap persona, but ultimately non-essential. He still feels like he’s featuring on his own tracks, providing the hooks and the irrelevant 16 as he’s easily lapped by almost every feature on the tape. Papoose delivers both the best and worst lines on Benjamin Flocka (I’m crowned like the heights were the Jewish live? Yuck) and many of Waka Flocka’s faceless crew are starting to evolve. (Most notably Slim Dunkin, and Wooh Da Kid)
It’s hard to make an argument that Waka Flocka will be as relevant to hip hop more than he was last year. Beyond being hated by the “pure” rap fans, Flockaveli seems like the benchmark, and every other tape after it may be decent, but will never reach the same recognition. His unapologetic apathy towards evolving as an MC means that everything that comes out after will most likely see diminishing returns. The honest truth is that if he’s not growing, and everyone around him improves and finds their voice, Waka may find himself merely a feature on future Bricksquad endeavors- forced to scream their hooks.
You can listen or download Benjamin Flocka here