Although she is yet to release her official debut album, Ethiopian-born beauty and lyrical femme fatale Lola Monroe established herself as one of hip hop's most buzzed about femcees with her early mixtapes like 2009's Boss B****es World, and the critically acclaimed Batteries Not Included.
On her fifth mixtape Lipstick and Pistols, hosted by DJ Ill Will, the DMV rapper shows her growth and adaptability as a lyricist, switching up her style to fit whatever a track calls for. From a Rick Ross-type slow flow, to that Tech N9ne-esque machine gun spit and anything in between, Lola is ready willing and able.
Production-wise Lipstick and Pistols is laced with mostly thundering tracks guaranteed to blow out your speakers, while guest appearances by heavy-hitters like Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J (affiliates from her Taylor Gang days) and a recently resurgent Cassie keep things interesting.
On the apocalyptic "BossetMafia Intro" Lola sets the tone with a true gangster conversation before dropping an opening verse to get you ready for a lyrical onslaught on "Makavelli." The Juicy J-assisted ode pays tribute to the late Tupac Shakur (who, like Lola was into rapping and acting) in true Triple 6 fashion: thumping drums and a chorus of hypemen shouting, "Yeah hoe." Lola crafted her verse from some of Pac's classics. "Prayin' 'Hail Mary, all these eyes on me/ But still I rise like resurrections, demise on key./ Thug life, thug life, let me get this mug right/ F***type ya life when n****a cut white," Lola rapped in true boss b**** fashion.
Asian instruments give the Oscinachi-produced, "Band Up" a unique, futuristic-type sound. Lola drops her slow flow on this one, calling out all challengers with rhymes like, "I might clean your man out, you and me, we been different/ You want a handout, I hand out a** whippings/ Okay, I O-D, don't make me K-O these b*****s/ and go f*** some rats, all on some K-O-D b*****s."
The bass-heavy beats continue on the self-explanatory "Stompin' Bitches" and "Money On Dey Head," while Lola is at her lyrical best on "Fly Away" spitting, "As I lay me down to sleep, I'm praying for all my frenemies/ They prayin' for my downfall, I'm praying for they ends to meet/ I get it, I get it, they mad I really done did it/ f*** it, now this one for the suckas who said I ain't gone be s***/ now I'm s****n' on you bustas, and pissin' all on your diss," making up for the song's lackluster hook.
The funky, somewhat jazz-driven "Gorgeous" is a good change of pace on L&P; coupled with "Around The World," which features renowned lyricist and Lola's baby daddy, Los, there is a notably upbeat departure from the gangsta tales that start off the whole thing.
Lola gets more personal on "Ain't No Turnin Back." The piano-driven track starts out with angelic chantings which lay the canvas for the beautiful, but deadly MC. "Last tape I wrote a letter to Lucifer/ Now through the venom I can see who bitter/ All my credence in allure but these demons and these whores/ be the reason I accord with a few killers/ Am I saying there's vengeance, that I've conjured/ I'm just saying' I've had a couple thoughts that's wandered," rhymed Lola over the Devin Cruise-produced beat.
The mixtape's other high points are the Christina Milian-assisted "Wired," "Cheat On You" and the bonus hit "Imperfections."
So by the end, while Lipstick and Pistols is a good effort, especially considering that it's been roughly three years since her last mixtape, it lacks consistency. Songs like "Gimme My Money" and "You Know I Want You" do little to really grab the listener. Lola also exposed a significant weakness that could hurt her as she pursues mainstream acceptance, and that's her lack of radio-friendly material.
For anybody that isn't familiar with Lola Monroe, Lipstick and Pistols is a good intro and shows that rap is not just some side project for the new mom. Although the mixtape cools off in its second half, it should provide fans with enough of a fix until her long-awaited debut LP (still TBA).
(Photo: Blue Rose Entertainment)
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