Derivative and Clueless
Artists: if you’re going to punch down, at least do it well. Misogyny and homophobia have long been unfortunate constants within hip-hop lyricism, so much so it isn’t surprising whenever either is invoked within the context of a rap album. Still, every now and then an artist comes through to surprise even the most desensitized listener with how backwards and out-of-touch he can be. This year, that artist is Kyle Lucas.
Kyle Lucas specializes in macho-posturing pop-rap, like a frat house Macklemore, but lacking the latter’s technical abilities. On Lucas’s debut—Marietta, named for his Georgian hometown—there is little in his lyrics, delivery, or choice in production to differentiate him from the thousands of other buffed-out young men also grasping for fame.
Lucas seems to want his listeners to simultaneously admire and pity him, and sets out to accomplish this through the use of some fairly questionable tactics. Shortly after the genuinely atrocious “M.F.S.” (wherein, Lucas details why he’s “the motherfucking shit”), the rapper ruefully describes himself as “the poster boy for leaving” (“Go”)—as in, all his romantic partners leave him in the end. But why should anyone be surprised? Between the hyper-sketchy brags about how “your girl on my lap’s about to pass out” (“We Own This”), or the hook consisting of “Bitch / Look at what you made me do” (“I Hope You Crash Into A Ditch”)—which, regardless of intent, conjures images of domestic violence—how is anyone supposed to feel sympathy for this guy? Mind you, these songs are delivered as though Lucas is supposed to be a hip-hop everyman, as opposed to the goofy, shock-rap antics of enfant terrible Eminem (who actually has a documented history as an abuser). So when Lucas raps “Dodged a bullet with my last bitch / Almost married, would’ve got a divorce,” one can’t help but get the impression it was actually his ex who dodged the bullet.
This isn’t to imply that Kyle Lucas is an abuser, or even that he’s a bad person; after all, one shouldn’t necessarily conflate an artist’s actual self with his or her musical persona. What is certain is that Lucas has no clue as to how terrible these lines make him sound—a factor that carries its own disturbing implications. And while the happy-go-lucky sound of Marietta makes it seem as though Lucas wants to be viewed as a lovable asshole—a la Atmosphere’s Slug—he doesn’t incorporate enough pathos to give the listener much to love.
Even when he isn’t being overtly sexist or dropping clumsy jabs like “your fans are all dudes, what’s gayer than that?,” Lucas still doesn’t have much going on for himself. Even in regards to production, the album’s beats are listenable, but ultimately nondescript. Furthermore, Marietta‘s best lines are bitten from more accomplished artists, with Lucas’s coattail-riding further compounded by the ironically titled “Drake Stole the Original Title of This Song.” (In reality, Drake probably has no clue who Kyle Lucas is). Lucas clearly idolizes Drake’s mix of sensitive-dude sentiment and battle-ready machismo (the hook for album-closer “Alone” even sounds an awful lot like Drake’s “Headlines”), but there really isn’t much here to differentiate him from today’s glut of bro-rap. All in all, while it would be hyperbolic to say the album is one of the worst of the year, it would be equally dishonest to say it’s worth anyone’s money and time.