Music

Waka Flocka Flame: Flockaveli

Crunk has found itself a new king.


Waka Flocka Flame

Flockaveli

Label: Asylum
US Release Date: 2010-10-05
UK Release Date: Import
Amazon
iTunes

As much as I would like to give Flockaveli the usual and dig its guts out, put the pieces back together and explain what makes Waka Flocka Flame so endearing as an artist, I'm not sure I can find the words to do so. After all, the Flocka experience is so visceral and humanistic that to try and distill its purpose feels too scientific, too heartless. This ugliness deserves more appropriate handling. Originally intended as a mixtape, songs like openers "Bustin' at 'Em" and "Hard in da Paint" with their extended codas of pure unfiltered adlibs make it somewhat obvious not much effort was made to album-ize this set other than remove the DJ drops and boost everything to CDQ. This kind of thing happens over and over, though the first three songs make the best examples. "TTG" contains a debut "feature" from artist Baby Bomb which consists solely of his pronouncement "I'm Baby Bomb!" at least 10 times and impersonations of OJ da Juiceman and Flocka's adlibs. It also contains a feature from either Joe Moses or YG Hootie (I'm guessing Hootie) that consists of nothing more than the various sets he reps on the West coast. It's not just ignorant, it's aggressively so, in a way that often seems to disrespect nearly all conventional hip-hop production techniques. In the process, he has created Flockaveli, the best complete crunk album in more than six years, since Crime Mob's debut.

Crunk is a music that causes a lot of problems for "serious" critics, because it ignores the conventions of hip-hop, which often ignore the conventions of Western music in general. It is music whose purpose is the beat and the atmosphere. All vocals on top must succumb to the production or risk sounding too "hip-hop". See, Flockaveli is "real", from Waka's non-rapping raps to his endless amount of weed carriers and useless verses based on nonsensical studio gangster in-jokes. As "Fuck This Industry" makes perfectly clear, he couldn't care less if his album is a critical or commercial success. His homies have been put on, his point has been made, and whatever happens next happens. Consider him the anti-Rick Ross or Jay-Z. But there is one caveat to all this, maybe even two: Lex Luger is an insanely talented producer. While his lane is perhaps the narrowest of any producer in recent memory, he takes the aggression and bombastic nature of Drumma Boy and marries it to the grim, somewhat classical influenced programming of Zaytoven. In the process he creates these massive edifices of drill'n'bass 808 trills, bass kicks and hand claps that don't pretend to be anything but trunk bangers. They are so filled with minor details that it's honestly hard to pay attention to how whack Waka and his cornies are most of the time, which like I said before is the point of crunk. When the raps do stand out, it's because the hooks are almost universally subversive (save the repetitive "Young Money Brick Squad" chant) and these guys are simply too dedicated to ignorance and simple turns of phrase to avoid entertainment forever.

Essentially, Flockaveli is poised to become to the Trap South what Group Home's Livin' Proof means to graduates of NYC's Golden Age: a producer classic littered with verses so whack they become endearing in their special way. What Premier saw in Malachi and Lil' Dap, Luger sees in Waka Flocka Flame, and he pulls that special kind of synergy unique to hip-hop out of him again and again. This is a very specific album intended for a specific audience: downtrodden, powerless, forever seeking payment, pussy and freedom from the powers that be but in the process of accepting they may never find that experience. This is strictly hood music, and as a white suburbanite I honestly find it hard to say much more than if you're not into crunk, or what Waka and friends have evolved the format into with Flockaveli, then you just don't need to listen to this. Because if you dislike it, well, you just aren't listening right. This is the very definition of potential maximized. Sure, Flocka's no Pastor Troy let alone T.I. or Big Boi, but it's been a very long time since a hip-hop release felt like it truly didn't give a fuck about anything but its local community while pushing its genre forward as much as possible. It's comforting to hear something feeling so insular and self-involved, even if it's only entertaining in cars and as awkward filler at parties.

6

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image