Washington D.C. rapper Shy Glizzy entered 2014 with success all but guaranteed. Younger than his unkempt facial hair would suggest, he’d already recorded the song, “Awwsome”, which would enter “MTV Jams” rotation and is currently making its way across rap radio. The obnoxious, but loveable anthem of self-satisfaction appeared on Future’s late-2013 mixtape No Sleep as one of many tracks from lesser known trap rappers. The song was in no rush to become a hit, so over the past months Glizzy put in the work to have everything come together for the release of his second mixtape of the year, Law 3: Now or Never.
Within D.C., the 21-year-old rapper was already a known quantity in the early 2010s after putting out reliable but pedestrian mixtapes. But the February release of his Young Jefe tape finally extended his popularity. A strong exercise in melodic conciseness, nearly every song on it featured a memorable hook (“I’m so high that I can make a snow angel”) or a wisely timed adlib (“Goddamn goddamn”). Though none quite caught on like “Awwsome”, tracks like “I’m on Fire”, “Or Nah”, “Coca Loca”, and the memorable yet morbid “Catch a Body” easily could sit between other breakout rap stars from the year like Dej Loaf, iLoveMakonnen, or Bobby Shmurda without a blink. To follow up a tape with that number of bangers could be intimidating, but Law 3 brazenly exceeds it.
Shy Glizzy on record is rarely bashful so it only makes sense that Law 3 features songs titled “Cocky”, “Celebration”, and “Legend”. That self-assurance helps sell him when stomping across evergreen rap topics like the drug trade, gunfire, and money. He commits, quite convincingly, to every word. So when he spits “Take me out these handcuffs/ I like to eat salmon/ I can’t be in handcuffs” on “Handcuffs”, the plea is not of frustration at the law, but at the spiteful peers that want to see him fail, and would deny him a seafood dinner.
Earlier this year contributor Lawrence Burney explored that possibility that, through street rap, D.C. could finally see broader success in a post-Wale world. Here, Glizzy stuck to that model, choosing to keep working with two of his most reliable producers: trap legend Zaytoven and the undervalued K.E. on the Track. Unlike a number of other major cities, D.C. is not burdened with a specific definition of what a rapper from the city could or should sound like; when rappers of the city range from the ’90s throwback of Oddisee to the post-Tumblr rap of Yung Gleesh to the hardened trap of Fat Trel, there is clearly no singular path to follow. Glizzy’s chosen nasally half-sung style allows him to work well with any artist from Chicago or Atlanta and still fit comfortably next to Lor Scoota’s distinctively Baltimore accent with his regional hit “Bird Flu”.
The cover of Young Jefe evoked the ’80s film Scarface, which is not an unfamiliar motif for a young rapper seeking to assert his own gangster machismo. But there is a real harshness to Glizzy’s music on Law 3 that rises above his last tape’s cartoonish bombast. On the early highlight “Funeral” Glizzy approaches his death the same way he deals with his mortality: Extravagantly and violently, as he raps “It’s gon’ be some superstars at my funeral…You might get your ass robbed at my funeral.” There is no tension here for Glizzy, he accepts the reality that such opulence could come with consequences. It’s a fitting sentiment for Glizzy’s past year: 2014 was full of opportunity for him, and Law 3 finds a rapper refusing to take it easy on his way to success.
from Album Reviews – Pitchfork http://ift.tt/12x6uvs