If anyone was trying to have a conversation about Detroit’s next big thing, such a conversation could not be had without mentioning B-Free.
B-Free had a big 2017 that saw him open for heavy hitters like OG Maco and Kap G, and now he’s prepping himself for an even bigger 2018. Just over a month into the new year, he’s already released his first project, Motor City Menace.
Tone-wise, the album is basically split into two halves. We’re going to start off by talking about the first half of the album, which is comprised of mellow, vibey tracks. These first few tracks are laced with a production that underlines a soothing symphony that is made electric by B-Free’s contemplative, calming, and and confident lyrical signature. Tracks like “Outta Time,” “Pressure,” and “Feel” especially provide B-Free with the perfect merger between a pop beat and an R&B voice. Hip hop heads who can’t vibe out with such a tone need not worry as B-Free doesn’t forget to splice in a few impressive bars for this light first half of the album.
It is also in this first half where we notice that B-Free takes some big cues from Drake in his musical approach. The Drake influence on this album is obvious, but don’t mistake that influence for outright biting. B-Free is actually able to take the typical conventions of an artist that he admires, and puts his own spin on it. It’s Drake’s sound with a grit that is indicative of the essence of Detroit.
We reach a major tonal shift beginning with Track #7’s “Take Me Back.” From here on out, we get nothing but pure rap and club bangers, and B-Free couldn’t have picked a better song to ease his listeners into the transition. “Take Me Back” has to be the hardest song on the album, although that can be easily argued after hearing songs like “On My Lap” and “Shooting Up The Club.” The latter two tracks especially have a strong case for listeners who have heard B-Free perform them live. They know that these are the tracks that really gets the crowd bumping.
The album culminates with “The Plan” which, much like the album itself, has a tonal shift. In reverse to the album’s tonal shift, the song starts off with B-Free rapidly spitting on a banger type of beat, but then the beat slows itself down into something more of a melody, and so does B-Free’s own vocal tone. It’s like listening to Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares (Intro)” in reverse. Through both the lyrics and the swift beat change, “The Plan” personifies B-Free’s dreams and ambitions of being the best in his craft. As if he didn’t make it clear from the album as a whole, B-Free is hungry for hip hop’s brass ring.
For a first project made to introduce us to B-Free’s flow and style as an artist, B-Free does a stellar job and rarely stumbles. The only time where he does stumble is Track #4, “Holiday Inn.” It’s the weakest song on the album and the closest we ever get to a weak, skippable song. Something about B-Free and Hotel Seprino just doesn’t clique. Which is weird, because both are superb artists in their own right. You’d expect something better from such a combination, but for the most part, it just feels like B-Free doesn’t fit the beat. It works for Hotel, and he actually has a fine verse. It’s B-Free that feels out of place, and that ultimately hurts the song. Not to mention the hook is kind of obnoxious.
Other than that, this album as a whole is pretty great. If I had to rate it, I’d give it a B. This eleven track album just feels like it breezes by after almost 40 minutes, and when it’s all said and done, you’ll be tempted to listen to it all over again. Give it a listen.
And be sure to check out B-Free’s latest music video for “The Plan.”
Listen to Motor City Menace: Spotify