Mixtape Review: Waka Flocka Flame, I Can't Rap Vol. 1

Turn Up God takes on Future, Gucci Mane and Yeezus beats, plus more.

3star
Posted: 07/17/2014 11:00 AM EDT

(Photo: Brick Squad Monopoly)

Waka Flocka has never claimed to be the best MC. In fact, at one point during the video for Machine Gun Kelly's "Wild Boy," MGK asked him point blank if he thought of himself as a good rapper to which he quickly and unabashedly answered, "No."

That was 2011. Waka has made a significant amount of progress with his flow since exploding onto the hip hop scene the year before with hard-hitting songs like "Hard in da Paint" and "No Hands." And with his EDM album, (appropriately titled Turn Up God) as well as the highly anticipated Flockavelli 2 both set to come out this year, the Down South rhymer is definitely doing something right.

On his latest mixtape, I Can't Rap Vol. 1, Waka, like 50 Cent did with Curtis, took something people tried to use against him and owned it. The ATL rapper borrowed some of the year's hottest beats and put his fingerprint on them. Like most of his music, this should only be played on a hard-hitting system.

"No point to prove. I'm just me/Outchea making history/I feel like Malcolm X fresh from Mecca, I got enemies/Flocavelli finger f----d this industry/My money oil, Middle East/The holy ghost just entered me/The words I spit is biblical/I just reached my pinnacle/My feeling now invincible/I'm the principal/Million dollar business move, these rap n----s lookin' pitiful," jabbed Waka over uptempo drums and ominous chantings. He seemed to be taking a shot at his old partner-in-rhyme Gucci Mane, using his own track, "Confused."

Waka continued his Top 40 onslaught dropping verses over hits like Snootie Wild's "Yayo," ScHoolboy Q and BJ The Chicago Kid's "Studio" and perhaps a preview of what's to come on his EDM project, "Turn Down for What," on which he proclaimed, "I'm the turn up god."

The raucous rhymer also dropped a preview of what's to come from his other pending album, Flockavelli 2, with one of the mixtape's few original songs "Slippin," featuring a thundering beat courtesy of Mike WiLL. The song, which is one of I Can't Rap's high notes, is a warning shot to any potential foe to not be caught slippin'.

The mixtape was heavy on trap music but still left room for introspection like on "Ghetto Gold," where Waka rapped about his tribulations coming up on the streets, and "Draft Day," which he transformed from an ode to Johnny Manziel to a celebratory track about his own success.

Flocka used a lot of these tracks to reinforce the sarcasm of the mixtape's title. "Lights," "0-100" and the dynamic, "Love Me No More" showed off his lyrical growth, and on "I Know," originally authored by Yo Gotti, the self-deprecating MC dropped one of his better verses.

"They know Flocka got these streets, f--k this industry/I know he fakin', f--k his feature, won't get s--t from me/A lotta rappers CB4, boy can't support 'em/They just mirrors full of smoke that Ghost they can't afford it/You give the streets a bad name you can't fill these shoes/No you don't really live that life, who you tryna fool?" Waka rapped.

Though no one can argue that I Can't Rap was creatively adventurous, not all the beats fit well with Waka's flow and, since they were all originally hits, it made it all the more noticeable. Songs like "Blood on the Leaves," which was one of the more highly regarded tracks from Kanye West's Yeezus, and "Trap Hop," which was a take on dead prez's breakout single, "Hip Hop," gave the mixtape an inconsistent feel.

The Troy Ave-assisted "3 Gold Chains" was also underwhelming, which is disappointing considering how good and unique a collaboration like this potentially could have been.

With most of the songs coming in between two and three minutes long, this mixtape served its purpose as a nice teaser to get fans ready for what Waka Flocka Flame can do with production tailored to his unique style. I Can't Rap Vol. 1 proved haters and Waka's own words wrong.

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