What do you get when you mix French Montana’s Coke Boys with Fetty Wap’s Zoo Gang? You get ‘Coke Zoo’, of course.
The Bronx’s French Montana has steadily ascended through the ranks of hip hop over the last few years, securing the approval of Puffy Daddy (or P. Diddy or Sean Combs) and even dating one of the Kardashian sisters briefly; which has undoubtedly increased his fame considerably. Fetty Wap, on the other hand, crash-landed onto the scene earlier this year with his self-titled debut album and made-for-radio hit-single, "Trap Queen". The collaboration between the two is surprising, yet it’s not. Two contemporary rap artists with the world at their feet, what do they have to lose?
Five seconds into the album’s opener, "First Time", encounters the most annoying laugh known to mankind. It has to be French Montana and he seems to be humouring Puff Daddy who is busy articulating his own greatness. A stark reminder that hip hop might be the only genre where narcissism is not only openly accepted, but it is somewhat basked in. Montana raps about his first times, ‘first’ appears in every bar; the repetitiveness and overuse of the N-word gets old quickly.
Fetty Wap’s entrance into Coke Zoo comes on the second song of the record, "Power". The tone of his voice isn’t dissimilar to a small child having a tantrum, but there’s something intriguing about his vocal style and infectious trap beats. Montana steps in halfway through and the two complement each other; the contrast between Montana’s deep, almost husky timbre and Fetty’s high, pitchy warble, makes them both instantly recognisable.
The partners in rhyme highlight some obtrusively sexist and derogatory views of women in "Freaky". Some of the lyrics include; "Go and bust it open with your freaky ass", "I know this freak, from Hollywood, she suck on d**k and she do it real good" and "10 hoes in my whip like, if she ain’t f***ing then this b***h bi". Hip Hop is known to take no prisoners and indiscriminately cause offence but, unlike the sting of Eminem’s barbed wordings, nothing about these lyrics is either funny or clever. The only thing worse than hearing this track is watching the music video, which showcases a gaggle of scantily clad women (devoid of self-esteem) grinding and twerking as they are groped and showered in hundred dollar bills. A grotesque picture of misogyny in 2015.
"Whip It" starts with a solemn news report and then melts into a messy collage of echoes and reverberations, bearing no real direction. It’s mediocre house party background music – at best. Eye-wateringly gratuitous auto-tune saturates "Last of the Real Ones", which is more produced than a manufactured boy band; containing an avalanche of different effects, stacked in a multitude of layers.
Fetty takes the reigns for "Angel" and at this point it’s abundantly clear that he’s the premier of the two; original, unique and understated – well, more than Montana, at least. High-tuned instrumentation accompanies his vocal and creates a lighter, fresher ambience. Meanwhile, the lyrics in "Sometimes" are virtually unintelligible and the music is nothing more than a garbled jumble-heap of white noise.
Chris Brown’s emergence on "Gangsta Way" is the single best thing to happen to the record. The introduction of some indisputable talent completely breaks the mundane cycle and elevates Coke Zoo to new heights. Say you what you want about his much-publicised personal life; Brown’s voice is like spun silk.
"Damn Chainz" is exactly that – an entire song written about jewellery. What is the obsession with gold chains in hip hop culture today? There seems to be a constant need to rap about them, like they’re the newest item on earth; news flash – they’re not – and the drilling xylophone-esque musical bed, is enough to induce self-inflicted eye-gouging.
A 42 second skit, called "Jamaican Trainer", of some little kids talking to each other in Jamaican accents about working out is random, pointless and – if you listen to it – 42 seconds of your life that you’ll never get back. The entirety of "My Squad" is less than two minutes and it genuinely feels like Fetty has given up at this point. The slightly 2 Tone ska-punk influence on ‘See Me’ doesn’t save it from being utterly tedious. The unexplained gunshot sound at the end is like some kind of weak attempt for Montana to flex his street-hood-ghetto "gangsta" muscles.
The final track on the album, "Concentration", starts with a beautiful and classy piano piece that is subsequently defecated on with another of Montana’s sexist outpourings – ‘These h**s f***ing up your concentration’. Really? Coke Zoo is somewhat akin to Coke Zero. Zero passion. Zero anthems. And zero f**ks given by us if this mixtape sinks without a trace.