Washington D.C.-based Tabi Bonney is a talented M.C. with an ear for good beats and an impressive Rolodex. So why does Fre$h, his third proper full-length, feel so underwhelming? The primary culprit seems to be the production. On Fre$h, Bonney leans heavily on unknown and up-and-coming producers and only Oddisee—half of beloved D.C. boom-bap outfit Diamond District—rises to the occasion with his synth-smeared composition “Winner’s Tourney”. Unsurprisingly, Bonney sounds bored and lethargic rapping over these unremarkable beats, as does his impressive array of guests, including Curren$y, Pusha T and Wale. By way of contrast, Bonney is downright animated on his latest mixtape, Postcard From Abroad, wherein he raps over everything from Phoenix to the Knife. As is the case with most emerging rappers, Bonney’s sample-clearing stockpile has yet to catch up to his ambition; as such, one should consider Fre$h a mere supplement to the mixtape, not the other way around.
// Notes from the Road
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