(Photo: Diamond Lane Music Group)
For years, Problem has been one of a handful of emcees primed to take over the West Coast, but on his latest mixtape, The Separation, he shows why he still isn't ready to carry that torch just yet.
The silver lining of The Separation was Problem's stellar production on tracks like "The Separation," "Bang Bang" and "Team Up," but as far as lyrics go, Problem has a ways to go. The real star on this mixtape was League Of Starz, who produced a good chunk of The Separation.
The Compton rapper's rhymes seemed mostly uninspired until "Talkin Too Much," when he showed what he's capable of when he gets candid with rhymes like, "I'm not the best dad, a n---a try to be that / You outsiders don't see that / That's why I stay high to balance with my downs/ You always shootin' videos, I was movin' pounds." The lyrics show a more complex and conflicted side of him and, like Tupac, offering more of that will help him to ascend to the next level.
Problem showed another glimpse of what he could be on "The Beginning," spitting venom at haters, even teasing the idea of taking on Compton's current rookie of the year, Kendrick Lamar. "Y'all came to lose, I came to win / They say it's Kendrick, s--- I gotta go at him / Usin' my words as a weapon / Roles reversed, you know he comin' at me," proclaimed Problem with fire in his voice.
The mixtape's other high notes were the bonus track, "Chachi's Revenge," which once again displayed passion and vitriol; "Do It," which featured fellow Compton rapper Tyga, and the aforementioned "Bang Bang," which featured Game and frequent collaborator Bad Lucc.
However, top-notch production and great features — from a roster which also includes Chris Brown, Wale, Snoop, Wiz Khalifa and T.I. (who killed it on "Roll Up") — only hurt Problem as they mostly outshine him.
Still, he seems to know what place he wants in the game. So, while most emcees are who they are by their first year in the public spotlight, Problem's potential could get him to step up to the big leagues — but only if he continues to lyrically close the separation between him and his audience. If he does that, then he'll soon become a problem for the rest of hip hop instead of for himself.
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