Mixtape Review-HBK Gang-Gang Forever
I can think of a lot of things the HBK Gang compilation isn’t. It’s not a taut concept record, something that feels like an album given for free. At the same time it’s certainly not a lazy collection of freestyles. The only thing I can think to compare it too is an outrageous musical house party with yelling and red cups and hook ups all over the place. Just like a packed house party it’s hard to keep track of who is in the room. At any given time you could be hearing CJ, P-Lo, Kool John, IAMSU!, Skipper, Sage The Gemini, Rossi, Jay Ant, Kehlani, Dave Steezy, Mike Dash-E and guess what…they are all rapping about the same thing. Almost every verse contained within Gang Forever relates to hooking up and who you plan to hook up with.
Most label compilations are trying to showcase the diversity and talent of the roster. This is not the case with rapping on Gang Forever. Since everyone is talking about the same thing and only one (IAMSU) has a transcendent flow the rest become a somewhat indistinguishable posse. Gang Forever showcases a brilliant diversity of production however. P-Lo does a remarkable job taking the legendary Message beat from Grandmaster Flash and filling it with hand claps and moving it into the ratchet genre on Can’t Hold Me Down. Jay Ant kicks off the speaker destruction with the beat for Go Crazy and SU jumps all over the beat. Not only does SU do the best rapping on Gang Forever but he contributes multiple slapping backdrops. She Ready is an example of his excellent production, it burbles and kicks into another wonderful IAMSU hook. Don’t let anyone tell you that ratchet production begins and ends with DJ Mustard. As talented as he is Rick Rock, Jay Ant, IAMSU, League of Starz, and a gang of others are just as good.
Every single song on the seventeen track mixtape feels like the smash lead single. It’s just as impressive as it is tiring. If you want to call it one note you are accurate but it’s proudly and admirably so. If HBK songs all sound the same they at least sound like one fantastically fun song.
I was certainly worried about playing this collection in the car with my wife. Any collection of music that includes the line “I’m up in your girl like mixed emotions” might not appeal to female listeners. My strategy was to skip right to the song Anita Baker and start from there. While it is true that Anita Baker does include the line “I’m a slide in it no I can’t swim but I dive in it. She got them thick thighs I’m dividing them.” The beat from HBK Joe is so gently soulful and the chorus is integrated with the sample so seamlessly that the experience of listening to it is like passing a painting at an art gallery and feeling your feet freeze you in front of it. Some things are just spellbinding. My wife felt similarly.
Having listened to SOOO much HBK music over the past two years I feel confident giving an “After IAMSU who is the next to blow?” power rankings
1.CJ-very good rapper and beat picker
2.P-Lo-great producer getting better as a rapper
3.Skipper-flow is very slow, slow sex jokes are creepy
I’m not including Kool John. Kool John is a whole other organism. A write up for a different time.
Stream or Download Gang Forever below: