I was a freshman in college, sitting in my dorm, watching my roommate play Call Of Duty, when I stumbled across one of my favorite YouTube videos ever. My jaw literally dropped.
Fast forward to today, Wax has released his third studio album,Livin' Foul, for public consumption. Unlike in school, I now live in this weird world where my boss is friends with rappers I love, so we got a sneak peek at the album before it hits the net. Rather than keep it all for myself though, I thought, what better way to celebrate the album than getting really drunk and passing out in my underwear as "Livin' Foul" plays on repeat giving it a Cheat Code album review?
It’s pretty incredible to watch that video now considering how far Wax has come. A few albums, a couple of mixtapes and plenty of Banquet beers later, Wax has built an impressive indie career. Granted he’s not Cha-Cha-ing with Future or anything, but Wax was definitely one of the first do-it-yourself rappers on the internetz. His successful internet career even lead him to a deal with Def Jam, but as we very well know, major labels are not always the best place for uniquely talented individuals. With a strong library, countless collaborations (he actually introduced me to Anderson .Paak) and a "Rosana" video which blew the fuck up (35 million views!) Wax has built a sizable and passionate fanbase. A fanbase which is no doubt, very very excited for his first project in since 2012's Continue...
Wax is a rapper. Period. But also, he’s totally not a rapper. You are just as likely to find him with a guitar in his hand as a mic and he’s not scared to venture out of the deep, dark hip-hop forest. Songs like “Two Wheels,” which happens to be one of his most successful singles, really blur the lines between genres; people who don’t listen to hip-hop love that jam. It’s something I've noticed Wax doing more and more throughout his career and Livin' Foul, sonically, is the most adventurous project of his to date. You’ll hear the same Wax you know and love, but it'll be through a different lens. We’ll talk about it more when I break down some tracks, but I just wanted you to be prepared.
If you are a Wax fan, you should already be excited and eager to listen to the LP from start to finish, so consider this your little pink Baskin Robbins spoon sampler of what's to come. If you aren’t as passionate or well versed in the ways of the Wax, it’s my hope in just a few short minutes, I’ll have you just as eager as the rest of us.
Crack open a brew, it's time for a Cheat Code Review of Wax's Livin' Foul.
4 Songs You Need to Hear
Truth be told, I was waffling between spotlighting this track and “No Smoking In The House.” On the one hand “No Smoking In The House” features bars on top of bars and a cool little instrumental, but if you really want to get an idea of what this project is like, I think "Scumbag" is more appropriate. The first song really helps set the tone for the album because it’s not even a rap record. If it weren’t for the self-deprecating lyrics, I’m not sure I would have recognized this as Wax because this is anything but rap. Hell, it’s more country than hip-hop. But it's not exactly country either. I swear it has these grunge undertones to it. It’s kind of like if Kurt Cobain made the soundtrack for Oregon Trail or spent a vacation on a ranch in Wyoming. Honorable mention to “No Smoking In The House,” but in the end “Scumbag” is more indicative of what you’ll hear on Livin' Foul so it gets the nod.
Favorite Part: The snapping really grabbed my ear. It helps to engine the track, which doesn’t have room for your typical drum section.
"You’re Not Good Enough"
On the whole, Livin' Foul is high energy and pretty lively. There’s rarely a moment to catch your breath, so many sounds, styles, and bars. "You’re Not Good Enough" is one of the more low-key, easy going efforts on the album. It also shows Wax’s range. That hook is smoother than Beyonce’s thigh skin (probably). I really enjoyed this tune. You will too.
Favorite Part: Already said it, the hook.
The old Wax fans, the ones whose jaw dropped during that Vibe verse, might be taken aback by this album. It’s different. Very different. There’s more than just Wax ripping bars. Still, we love when Wax rips bars. If you want to hear that Wax, the one who simultaneously makes you laugh and say “shit, this dude can rap,” this track is for you. Quintessential Wax. Colorful, energetic, and tongue in cheek but still so technically sharp, this is the Wax I fell in love with. Motherfucker has a kazoo section!
Favorite Line: "Walk up to a pair of broads like 'Do you wanna dance?' / They like 'How you get in VIP wearing pajama pants?'”
"She Wants Everything"
I’m not quite sure how I feel about this tune yet, it may not end up sticking with me, but I know I had to include it in my write-up because it’s so remarkably different from anything Wax has ever done before. It's definitely not a rap song, but it’s not his typical guitar driven, country-twinged stuff either. It's not really even in the middle of those either. Honestly, I’m not sure how to quantify this atmospheric, whirring number. Is that Auto-Tune? At first I wasn't feeling the track, I found it to be shocking, but the more that I've listened the more I feel like I might end up really loving this number. Either way, it’s something you have to listen hear.
Favorite Part: The way that beat really kicks in towards the end. Damn.
Since turning 27 a few weeks ago I’ve been low-key freaking out. I feel nowhere near adequately prepared for life and I’m almost 30 fucking years old. It sucks. Normally I’d wallow in my sadness, but I’ve been trying to, you know, not stay stuck in self-pity because I already know that won't help, and so I've been avoiding more serious music. Still, I can't just listen to Drake and pretend like everything is charged up. Livin' Foul is the perfect blend of both. Wax has an amazing way of wrestling with reality and the struggles of existing in the world, but still being charismatic, humorous and upbeat. Not to get sappy, but this album is exactly what I needed. It lets me know that others are feeling just as lost as I am, but also reminds me not to take everything so seriously. That balance between reality and absurdity, packaged in a diverse set of instrumentals is the success of Livin' Foul.
As for whether all of this makes you want to listen to the album, that's up to you. I can only provide you with the cheat code, it's up to you to sit down and play the game. If you decide to do some foul living, though, enjoy...
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. You can tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth.]