Anyone that has listened to the radio since the beginning of 2015 is probably familiar with J. Cole, the young hip hop artist behind the hugely successful album “2014 Forest Hills Drive.” Who you may not be aware of is his friend and signee to the Dreamville record label, Bas. On his Soundcloud account, FiendBassy, you can find his new album “Too High To Riot.” The project kicks off with a beautiful sample from a Mick Jenkins song produced by Cam. “Methylone,” the song that follows. It was one of the singles released earlier this month. The catchy off-beat snares pair nicely with the hook and gives the album more momentum. “Methylone” seems to have a theme that encourages the avoidance of hard drugs, which is followed by a similar theme in the song “Dopamine,” where the chorus chants about flushing a tank of dope down the drain. The production throughout “Too High To Riot” finds a good balance between loud bass and slapping drums, and more soft and exposed melodies. Both of these sounds compliment Bas’s style which can be either energizing or relaxing, depending on the track. J. Cole’s feature on the track “Night Job” is hard hitting. It’s not too outlandish to say that he put his best verse of the year onto his protege’s new album. It’s well placed too, because at this point the excitement from the first few tracks begins to wear off.
If there is a complaint to be made about the project, it would most likely be that the voices are mixed too high in some places, to the point at which its alarmingly louder than the instrumentals behind it. That being said, most of the vocals are Bas delivering memorable verses and choruses worth listening to.
I recommend this album to any hip hop listeners that enjoy quality production and are willing to break off from the monotonous drone of artists like Future groaning over trap beats about how much they love abusing prescription drugs.