Waka Flocka - Triple F Life: Fans, Friendly & Family

Posted June 12, 2012

I had made my peace with the Waka Flocka Flame. At first I couldn’t listen to Mr. Flame...

Triple F Life: Fans, Friendly & Family Album Review

I had made my peace with the Waka Flocka Flame. At first I couldn’t listen to Mr. Flame without yearning for the sweet bliss of silence that Helen Keller must have experienced. In fact, I may or may not have called his debut album Flockaveli “spectacularly terrible.” Nevermind lyrical, his rhymes rarely actually rhymed and entire verses often consisted primarily of Waka repeatedly screaming his own name. But then…slowly but surely, I found a place for Waka in my life. Complaining that Waka didn’t make lyrical hip-hop was like complaining that McDonald’s didn’t make raw kale salads – what were you expecting? On the rare occasion I managed to make it to the gym, it was Hard in the Paint that got me through. On the rare occasion I needed to turn my brain off, it was O Let’s Do It that killed my brain cells. On the rare occasion I made it to an Atlanta strip club, it was Round of Applause that…you get the picture. Waka Flocka was my go-to headbang music, and I was fine with it.

And then he went and messed everything up with his new album Triple F Life. To be clear, there’s still a complete absence of metaphor and lyrical complexity here. As he promised, Waka has ignored critics pushing him to make the kind of “real” hip-hop album he didn’t have in him anyway. He has, though, apparently listened to the label A&Rs. If Flockaveli was recorded in the trap surrounded by digital scales and AKs, Triple F Life was recorded in a fully equipped studio surrounded by Warner Bros. reps. Of course, both Waka and the label would want more No Hands, a record that extended his appeal beyond the streets, and in many ways they succeeded. Triple F Life is a better album than Flockaveli, better made and filled with more hits and guest features, but that’s exactly why I don’t like it as much.

I should admit that I like Waka’s music as a whole, Round of Applause grew on me. Sure the presence of the softer-than-melted-butter Drake didn’t help Waka’s street rep, and Flocka’s raps are as slow and basic as ever, but in the right context (see first paragraph, ATL clubs) it’s hard to beat Applause. I can’t give that even conditional support to the Nicki Minaj, Tyga and Flo Rida Get Low. Yeah, it’s got a catchy hook, but why would I want to hear Waka on a track that Ray-J would sound at home on. That’d be like, well, hearing Flo Rida on Hard in the Paint. And by all means, congrats to Flocka for reaching the point where someone like B.o.B. gets on Fist Pump, and Bun B. and Ludacris join him for some Candy Paint and Gold Teeth, but the entire point was that Waka was one of the dude those stars were afraid of. The “real” trap rapper that hadn’t been softened by success yet. These are good songs, but we don’t come to Waka for good.

Don’t get it twisted, Waka hasn’t completely given up that headbanger life. You can’t title a track Let Dem Guns Blam and not throw down some heat, especially with Meek Mill riding shotgun, but Blam still feels disappointingly controlled. And while I expected to hear some brilliant ignorance on U Ain’t Bout That Life considering it featured a verse from the usually aggressive Alley Boy, instead I found an oddly Euro-techno beat. Lurkin most closely captures the anarchic energy of Flockaveli, unleashing a pounding beat that could inspire even the most conservative listener to commit some serious crimes. And yes, this is how much my listening relationship with Waka has changed: I’d rather listen to Plies on Lurkin than an objectively dope Luda verse on Candy Paint. These are strange times we live in my friends.

I’m more than willing to admit that I’m probably in the minority here. Both the streets, the hipster set and more mainstream outlets seem to be increasingly gravitating towards Waka, and Triple F Life certainly has the potential to take his career from upstart to established. More power to him, I just miss the good ol’ days when I could count on Flocka to give me a brand of trap rap so raw, so completely unconcerned with that the world thinks, that paint would peel off the walls if you turned the volume up loud enough. For better or for worse, it sounds like those days are gone.

DJBooth Rating - 3 Spins

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Posted June 12, 2012
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