Waka Flocka Flame has released a new mixtape in preparation for his current tour with the interpretive DJ Steve Aoki. This is his first mixtape since label head Gucci Mane publicly declared a dollar amount on how much it would cost record companies to buy Flocka. As such it is most notable for having a “Gucci Diss,” but it’s also an example as good as any to show the improvement of Waka Flocka on the mic.
Ever since Flocka released one of the best albums of the past five years with Flockaveli, he’s gotten to be a better rapper as well as getting richer. Both of those things take away from what was so tremendous about that first album. Every song on Flockaveli was so singularly callous because of his lack of skills and immersion in the rough Riverdale suburb of Atlanta. His unrestrained energy over those early Lex Lugor beats smacked ears like a pound of bricks. The energy has hardly left him, nor has he hasn’t escaped the turmoil of the streets – his best friend and collaborator Slim Dunkin was shot dead late last year, and Flocka himself sustained a gunshot wound in his shoulder earlier this year. But his money and popularity have made him more sensible, especially when compared to Gucci Mane’s recent exploits.
Like many Flocka mixtapes before, the introduction “Big Homie Flock” starts things off very strong. The momentum forges into tracks like “Obituary” and “Fuck Shit,” both featuring his brother Wooh Da Kid and the latter featuring Atlanta rapper Trouble and his trunk-rattle hooting. This all dies down for the fifth track “Ice Cream Cone,” the aforementioned Gucci diss. “Cone” never goes into great detail of their falling out and were it not for Gucci’s name being said out loud, it could just as easily be aimed at any faceless hater or former friend. It regresses into clichéd rapper issues of loyalty and jealousy, and his line “When I met Gucci, thought I met a real n***a/Until he crossed the line and became a fuck n***a” ends up coming across as compassionate in light of Gucci’s admitted troubles.
The middle of the tape tries to recapture the power of the six-foot-three Fozzie Bear with the help of 808 Mafia and London on da Track, but at times feels as forced and routine like gym exercises. Track titles like “Running Them Lips,” “Heavyweight” and “7 Days of the Week” are downright kinesthetic. The final two songs are where Flocka really finds his stride. “Alpo” is the hardest banger on the tape and sounds like he’s trapped in a foundry accident while he raps about pouring champagne on a girl doggy style. The last song “Bragg,” featuring Frenchie, describes the kind of inner peace Waka Flocka has found with the uneasy beat circling around him. He might still get the same complaints of not being lyrical or never living up to his debut album, but he’s got a lot to brag about. His third album Flockaveli 2, is due out January 2014.