Poor Astro has to be kinda used to being doubted, because any 13-year old kid who makes music of this stellar (see what I did there) quality must be constantly fielding questions about its authenticity.
Who writes your raps for you?
I bet your dad is the real creative force at work here.
Some label exec decided to manufacture a kid who raps like he’s from the 90s. This isn’t the real you! If you had your way you’d rap about Pokemon!
Well, I at least went through all these questions. In my defense, I couldn’t help it! I’m not used to enjoying music from people half my age, and it doesn’t seem possible that a just-turned-teen could make real rap better than adults who’ve been famous longer than he’s been alive!
On the other hand, it’s fitting that in this era where young people like The Underachievers are exploring topics like self-improvement while 2 Chainz at 35 wishes for a big booty hoe for his birthday, a skinny adolescent from Brooklyn is making the best New York hip-hop that I’ve heard in a minute. Maybe it’s that young people have had less time to be corrupted, or they’re more idealistic because real life hasn’t beaten them into jadedness yet. Whatever it is, I’m just happy to have more music to enjoy, regardless of who it comes from.
So Deadbeats and Lazy Lyrics is great, period, as opposed to being great for a kid Astro’s age. Sure his extreme youth shows in a few places, but that makes everything all the more authentic. Instead of just being about having fun with friends, Corduroy Couch has him sneaking out, having fun, then being caught by his mom holding a belt. And we all know what comes after that…
Openly admitting to catching some good old-fashioned corporal punishment makes Astro human in a way that many rappers would never do. Another example of good, honest songwriting is Dead Beat. Instead of taking the usual routes for emotional rap songs, rhythmic crying or stewing in anger, Astro simply describes his worthless father and his feelings about him. It’s very impressive that Astro can write about such a personal topic without it sounding forced.
But what I first noticed about Astro was his lyricism. He studied NYC’s best in hip-hop and it shows in his intricate rhyming, with multisyllabic rhymes and wordplay being tools used even in topical songs. On Cheese the topic is fake friends and he says “the only thing that could bend ya man [benjamin] is the dollars.” The low-key delivery makes this line sound even better than it looks.
This mixtape isn’t all a bowl of cherries though, there are some definite missteps. Flow uses a weird, um…flow, that I don’t think works very well. Don’t Be Afraid is an awkward song for women on a throwaway New Jack Swing R&B beat. I refuse to believe that Astro picked that beat, someone else forced that decision to try to round out the older sound that this album is absolutely soaked in. There’s already the “Dolby Stereo” symbol on the cover art and the Jay Dee-esque instrumental interlude at the end of the intro, we get that you’re into older music, enough already! Leave the Aaron Hall beats in the past where they belong.
Also, can I just vent for a second? I hate when people jack beats or a get sample of someone and claim that person produced or is featured on the song. The tracklist claims MF Doom produced one song, but Doom released that beat many years ago on one of the Special Herbs and Spices beat cds. And I bet the beat for the “9th Wonder-produced” song came from one of his many old beat tapes. There’s nothing wrong with using someone else’s beat for a free mixtape, but don’t pretend that they were truly involved in making the song!
Takes a deep breath
The constant devotion to the 90s sound also gets old on The Bomb, another song about a girl with a R&B beat. But this focus sounds good on Catchin Wreck, which uses Biggie’s The World is Filled instrumental. So really, I don’t mind the 90s sound, it just didn’t always work for me, especially when Astro tried to ape the 90s R&B styles.
I dont get the title, because there are few lazy lyrics here and most of the beats are good as hell. If deadbeats is about his dad, then more than one song should be about the guy, right? Anyway, the skip-worthy music is drowned out by all the good here and Astro is leaps and bounds better than artists with way more experience than him. I’m happy with this mixtape, and I look forward to watching his inevitable progression.