Disclaimer: Los is another hometown emcee. (So I guess this is the period of bias?) But not Ohio this time, Los is from Baltimore. I spent half of my childhood in the city’s suburbs. And I spent some time involved in Baltimore’s local music scene. So I might be biased. I still root for Baltimore hip-hop to “win”. You’ll see that, despite this, I can still be a fair critic…
Despite the above, I didn’t find out about Los until everyone else did, IE when his assaults of popular beats started getting him big-platform interviews and blog postings. His name sounded vaguely familiar though, maybe I’d seen it on some other local rappers $5 hand-to-hand mixtape? Anyway, that means that Zero Gravity 2 is my real introduction to Los. The only expectation I have is that some spitting BETTER happen! You don’t get to grab my attention with those freestyles then turn down the lyrics on the real release!
Luckily, that’s (mostly) NOT what Los did. His street fables, like Only Nigga Left, and descriptions of his urban environment, like Don’t Get in My Way, are dope all around. The beats are appropriately dark and moody, the topics are brought to life better than many rappers could dream of doing, and the flows are fast and intricate, just like I wanted them. Even on songs with MUCH more
boring conventional beats, like Play Too Rough, his bars are still pretty complex and structurally interesting even if nothing of value is being said with them.
But, as misfortune would have it, that beat is the tip of the conventional music iceberg. Los’ decisions are bafflingly basic sometimes, including the use of several beats that could have been on any one of the 5000 new Atlanta rappers’ mixtapes. Some are pure trap music, not bad but everyone else is already doing that sound, and others have that popular, turned down, somber vibe that I think is a mix of Atlanta trap and Drake. Other weird decisions are rap-singing (autotuned?) whole verses on Woke Up Like This, letting Lola Monroe (the video model turned emcee) jack Lil Kim’s style on But You Playin, and using a copycat DJ Mustard beat for Fake Niggas Died.
Verdict: Zero Gravity 2 is at best the sum of Los’ many likes and influences, and at worst a cheap grab for mainstream appeal by trying to squeeze all popular rap into one cd. Los can definitely spit, even the mediocre songs prove this. But, I often found it extremely hard to listen past all the distasteful elements to get to his lyricism. He’ll never be able to do Atlanta’s music better than them, and I’ve no idea why he’d even try when songs like Creator and Don’t Get in My Way were really good and fresh without copying top 10 hip-hop. I don’t really care if aping the mainstream is what’d bring widespread success to Los. It’s not the music I want from him, because it doesn’t compare to some of what he can do and has already done.
- Don’t Get in My Way ft Royce da 5’9 (merely ok verse from Royce)
- All the freestyles: OG Bobby Johnson, Control, Poundcake
- Only Nigga Left