Review: Sheck Wes’ ‘Mudboy’ is not as infectious as breakout hit ‘Mo Bamba’

Photo courtesy of Pitchfork

Story by Isong Maro / Contributing Writer

G.O.O.D Music (Kanye West) and Cactus Jack (Travis Scott) label signee Sheck Wes’ debut project has been released. The project is titled “Mudboy,” and its official album art features Wes, who doubles as a fashion model, covered in mud against a white background.

The project comes off the strength of Wes’ break-out hit song, “Mo Bamba,” produced by 16yrold and Take A Daytrip and initially released on the streaming service SoundCloud a year ago. The song itself has become a party favourite and a Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.

Wes has also benefitted from placement features on Travis Scott’s “ASTROWORLD,” as well as being shouted out by Canadian artist Drake on the same album. He has also since gained notoriety for his infamous ad-libs.

The producers on this project include the established WondaGurl, up-and-comer Yunglunchbox and the previously mentioned producers of the track “Mo Bamba.” Long-time G.O.O.D music collaborator Anthony Kilhoffer is also credited as the project’s engineer. The project does not have any guest artists.

The album opens up with a bass-heavy track produced by Digital Nas, followed by the track “Live Sheck Wes” produced by Yunglunchbox, both of which set the initial tone of the project – a dark mosh pit mood, filled with moody melodies and a lot of bass.

“Never Lost,” produced by WondaGurl, is a welcomed change of pace, featuring a more laid-back drum track.

Lyrically, Wes talks about growing up in Harlem and topics relating to youthful angst. He also displays his Senegalese and French-speaking background, rapping in French on track 11.

Understandably in the streaming era, a longer length can equate to more revenue. However, this project could have benefitted from a shorter and more concise eight to 10 track length. At 14 tracks, the project starts to feel drawn out in the middle and really struggles to keep up with the high-intensity mood set initially.

Some of the songs on this part of the project such as “Wanted” and “WESPN” feel redundant, and this is not aided by the fact that Wes’ style is pretty one dimensional and relies more heavily on hype ad-libs and energy, which is pretty much the norm in contemporary hip-hop. The goal with this style of music should be to capture the listener’s attention in as short an amount of time as possible much like a lot of punk rock music, leaving very little room for redundant and unnecessary tracks.

The track “Mo Bamba” has been one of the most infectious songs of 2018, and its unconventional rise in popularity is a true testament of the power of fan power. While Wes and the talented line-up of producers and engineers on this project do an admirable job of crafting sounds in the same vein as the aforementioned, the project as a whole is not quite as endearing.

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