[Album Review] LIL QWERTY - Jumpdrive
Lil Qwerty delivers a mixtape collection of tracks on Jump Drive. After this and since it’s 2017, can we all agree to start calling mixtapes - jump drives - because hardly anybody uses cassettes anymore?
Jumpdrive is a solid collection of songs. Sonically it mostly sounds good. Bump it in the car, as a background mood maker, or in your headphones and the head nodding will occur. He knows how to craft songs - he's not just a rapper spitting over beats. And lyrically, Qwerty is original. On Could Be Worse, he raps, “got no time for ladies who can’t stand on their own/not a snake charmer.” He’s also very witty. On the same track he refers to Arizona as hipster Mexico. Lyrically, Qwerty is really at his best when he’s being clever. I appreciate his willingness to get personal in certain moments. He is able to make the listener see the cracked and humbled human he is. But it’s the moments where he’s the sarcastic, smart ass that piques my interest because it’s where he’s at his best. The most interesting thing about it though is the concepts. While it has little connectivity from track to track, it mostly makes up for that with rock solid, smart concepts on most tracks.
The album gets off to a brilliant start with Kodi Fire Stick, an extended metaphor about Qwerty’s quest to make money off of rap, while admitting the difficult in that as a self-proclaimed ripper. Whether it was Lime Wire in 5th grade, Pirate Bay In high school, or Kodi in the present time, Qwerty illustrates how media is consumed now a days and rightly how hard it is for artists to make money off selling albums.
The only consistent theme throughout is being separated from people by technology. Digital Lover is an entire song about a relationship over the internet. The couple never make plans, instead opting to repost each other and send memes on bad days. On Kodi Fire Stick, he mentions his fans being people he never read receipted. On Bredren, a song about cultural appropriation in rap, he has a line about living off ramen and Twitter. People can really connect over the internet and Qwerty presents various examples of this like a normal, gleeful take on a Black Mirror episode.
Digital Lover is a fresh track. The artist, Lee, lends a helping hand with a gentle touch of smoothness in his voice. The assist helps carry a track through to the end where the emotional connection may not be felt by someone who has never had an internet relationship. The connections between Qwerty and his digital lover aren’t walks on the beach and holding hands. The couple gets lost on the Silk Road and shopping for foreign made products in China - all while gazing at each other through a screen. It’s a modern love story where the touching part of the story is not physical situations (which are not depicted) it’s in the music itself. An autotuned Qwerty and Lee, with production from Dylan Turner and Melikxyz, created a technological love story complete with celebratory horns showcasing what I mean when I say he can create a good song.
While Qwerty mostly showcases a sensitive, in touch with his emotions side (which are slightly skeptical of society and and sensitive), he does get on his braggadocious shit. Hits For Days and Belicheck are two tracks, not shockingly featuring Melikxyz, where the artist puffs out his chest. The chorus on Hits speaks like a greatest collection of some of the best all time hits, ever. Home runs, Bone Thugs, felonies, and sex are all casually thrown out metaphorically and comparatively as the types of hits Qwerty is working on. Not a bad selection to be compared to. Those are all timers for sure. The track is tagged into another echelon by Injury Reserve’s Steppa J. Groggs though. His raspy, right on time flow is damn near perfect. Content wise, he’s talking mad shit and it's glorious. "Groggsy boy 1/3 of the crew you love to hate/swear that you eating, why the fuck you eyeing my plate" is a pointed finger placed right between the eyes of rappers talking shit about the crew while staring hard at what the critically acclaimed trio has. He then goes in on an extended metaphor only parents and children will know about. Those types of hits hurt physically and emotionally thus going hard AF here.
On Belicheck, Qwerty and Melikxyz are making claims about people acting like the ’12 Patriots stealing playbooks and shit. It’s a dope concept but the best part of the song is when Qwerty raps he doesn’t know what his goals are and that he’s just going hard. This entire mixtape exemplifies this. Based on the dope soundscapes, concepts, tight rhyme patterns, and solid lyrics, it’s obvious Qwerty is putting his all into his music. As a result, most of this record has mad replay value. The passion and emotion behind it is present. The only issue - if it’s really an issue at all - is the fact that it’s not cohesive. As a mixtape (which was intended to be an album) it works well but there are songs I will personally skip in the near future like MyPlayer and the closer UMA (My Bride). The latter is a sometimes interesting track with sing-along chanting about a girl who’s a metaphorical a killer like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. But other than that, it misses the mark musically.
Could Be Worse though should be the anthem for Qwerty. What he has here is a dope start for his major streaming debut. His record is smarter and more interesting than 75% of the stuff out there and sounds doper than more than that, although it does fall flat in a couple areas. Just like a Jumpdrive, I'll probably delete the stuff I don't want but keep a good portion of the rest.