Dubbed the “new breed” of hip-hop, indie rapper MONSTERATION is definitely off to a promising start. For a debut release with no label backing, his first mixtape ‘Timbuktu: The New Breed’ is a refreshing blend of hip-hop, experimental EDM, and clever pop samples. It’s commendable for MONSTERATION to have written and self-produced most of the project himself, relying only on one producer (Silent Killa) for one original beat (“Pompeii”). MONSTERATION, who is openly gay and cites Lady Gaga and Wynter Gordon as influences, has placed sexuality at the center of his advertising and promotion (see the hashtag #gayrapper). While the release is only a preview of what’s to come, MONSTERATION’s a rapper first and proves he can ride with the best of them.
“Ain’t Shit” has a South Beach/Collins Avenue vibe with its loud horns and Scarface sample. MONSTERATION spits about different encounters with people proving just how “Ain’t Shit” they are with lines like “put a pic on Jack’d, niggas tight pressed, yo imagine that”. The song, which was recently announced as the official first single, could easily bring in lots of new fans both indie and mainstream. “Skii Masque” features fellow VA indie rapper Ty Rocks and the “Straight Spittin” onslaught of bars continues. The duo trade raps over a beat slightly similar to “Ain’t Shit” (minus the overbearing horns). While the two mesh well together, MONSTERATION’s verse is a bit short while Ty’s is a tad too long. Either way, “Skii” showcases two great indie rappers with more than enough potential for full-length releases in the future. “Faggotz” is a direct response to any critics doubling as gay male (wannabe) rappers. Apparently any comments debunking MONSTERATION as a credible rapper will be responded to with an angry but very passionate 16. “I ain’t even read your shit just to read your ass” he sharply rhymes to let the naysayers know that he’s taking rapping very seriously.
“Avenues” comes on very strong and starts off with one of the most hilarious Vines I’ve ever heard. MONSTERATION spits about how “new avenues bring new revenues” over Drake’s classic “We Made It” beat. The song is influential enough to gain a diverse audience while still maintaining a great deal of street credibility. “MONSTERATION/Freak Show” is a two-song affair that showcases the rapper’s #versatile side. On one end, there’s the flirty, biographical “MONSTERATION” that features two verses describing his rise to prominence and status as a new rapper. On the other hand, there’s “Freak Show”, which features a dark Lolingo beat with only a verse and a single chorus about the uniqueness of MONSTERATION the #gayrapper. Sadly, both ideas never get fully developed despite how groundbreaking they may appear to be in terms of defining MONSTERATION’s artistry. “Witch Doctor” comes packaged similar to Azealia Banks’ “Atlantis” with its seemingly Illuminati-inspired samples. The first verse is delivered much stronger than the rest, hence its placement in various MONSTERATION promo videos. “Grab a pot, spark a lucy, then take a trip / seeing double in the coven like witch is witch” he raps over a perfectly crafted beat by Kush Arora and MC Zulu. If “Doctor” ever became a single, it will follow “MONSTERATION” and “Ain’t Shit” in helping to define his mainstream audiences.
“Face First” could possibly be one of the best EDM/hip-hop mixes I’ve heard in a long time. The song starts off with a dark MONSTERATION flow as he goes into the best chorus on ‘Timbuktu’. Just under halfway through, the beat moves into Diplo-esque territory and becomes slightly reminiscent of Le1f and Boody’s hit “Soda” only better. There’s definitely something alluring about “Face First” especially upon a first listen, making the track a clear standout on ‘Timbuktu’. “Jungle Fvr” continues the Diplo-trend by sampling his “Boy Oh Boy” collaboration with GTA and Missy Elliott. MONSTERATION’s rapid fire flow fits perfectly with the song and has me wondering if the Grammy-nominated producer could’ve made the beat especially for him. Instead of rapping about himself, MONSTERATION paints a vivid (and somewhat shocking) picture of all his fly lesbian friends. In two parts, “Wet/Party MONSTERATION” stands as one of the first batch of releases from the ‘Timbuktu’ project. MONSTERATION gets sexy for one of the first times ever on the mixtape as he raps “gimme chips, gimme licks, all up on my grip, kiss my pink lips”. While sex appears to work in his favor, he turns up the appeal even more on “Party MONSTERATION”, which is almost like a sequel to the other biographical song on the project “MONSTERATION”.
“BBC” continues the uber sexy trend on the second half of the tape as MONSTERATION raps about…well…his BBC. The high energy standout is all about the slayage – whether it’s rhymes or dick – and he proves that he’s capable of doing both very well. “BBC” also has extreme mainstream appeal and could even pass as a #straightguyanthem if or whenever it hits radio. “Simple Life” is the staple personal song on the project, with MONSTERATION telling a story about a past lover. Judging from the lyrics “you need to stop thinking so much, society got your mind fucked”, the #downlowdrama appears to affect even the best indie rappers. There’s an odd explosion sample about halfway through “Life” that makes the song the sole somber moment on the entire set. “Pompeii”, the lone original beat on ‘Timbuktu’, starts of as a strong lyrical showing for MONSTERATION. The energy gets turned down a bit for the second verse, but he still manages to slide in slick lines like “Fisher Price, your price ain’t right / Vanna White, coke dyke, and her twat is tight”. The song ends with a freestyle over Jay-Z’s classic “Nigga What”, and comes off as one of MONSTERATION’s best verses to date.
In it’s entirety, ‘Timbuktu: The New Breed’ is a solid release from a budding new artist. However, taken separately, there are a few things that’ll leave listeners scratching their heads. The four interludes don’t really help to make the project cohesive, but rather divides MONSTERATION’s work into four uneven segments that don’t make much sense grouped together. Songs like “Avenues” and “Jungle Fvr” would be so much better with stronger bridges and hooks, while more thoughtful songs such as “Simple Life” and “Party MONSTERATION” suffer from not really having an arrangement at all. With talent like MONSTERATION’s, these quips could easily be handled through time and more songs under his belt. But for now, it’s just about the music – and ‘Timbuktu’ is solid enough to keep me coming back for more very soon. Download MONSTERATION’s ‘Timbuktu: The New Breed’ HERE.