Bobby Shmurda has undeniable star power and a strong ear for production, but "Shmurda She Wrote" leaves more technical (and sociological) questions than definitive answers.
The most interesting hip-hop event of the year has been the meteoric rise of Bobby Shmurda, brought on with the Jahlil Beats-produced “Hot Nigga,” the most surprising single in recent history. The accompanying, and now-ubiquitous, Shmoney Dance, choreography actually invented in 2013, has taken over all media mediums, to include white bread TV anchors jamming out. Less than a year ago, the Brooklyn rapper was likely trapping for his G-Star Raw clothing and expensive watches. Now, Shmurda closes award shows, and is planning to release a full length before year’s end on Epic Records. Quite the turn around, or is it?
Before the big release, Shmurda and Epic are hoping to keep up the momentum alive, by putting out Shmurda She Wrote as a primer. The hype in full swing, the newly minted star offers a teaser of a project, just enough to bridge fans over. However, the output may leave you unsure of long-term existence, and generally disturbed at what’s actually being said.
“Worldwide Nigga” sets the table with a hard beat, and brag-swag lyrics, with an assist from a Ty Real hook. Shmurda will not blow anyone away with technical skill, but he’s not exactly ‘cat in a hat’ either. He already understands what his limits are, and how to match himself on the appropriate production. However, there's a deeper context being touched on here, and throughout the rest of the album.
Worldwide charting “Hot Nigga” provides interesting insight to the lives of Shmurda and his compatriots. On the surface, it’s a straightforward trap song, with raw and catchy, build-and-drop production from Jahlil Beats. Numerous publications have already adequately described the influence of the dance. However, the lyrics deserve additional mention. Drop the beat and the dance, and a harrowing realism of hood life.
“And Chewy, I'm some hot nigga
Like I talk to Shyste when I shot niggas
Like you seen him twirl then he drop, nigga
And we keep them nine millis on my block, nigga
And Monte keep it on him, he done dropped niggas
And Trigger he be wilding, he some hot nigga
Tones known to get busy with them Glocks, nigga”
Understand that Shmurda is twenty years of age. And yet, he explains, “I been selling crack since like the fifth grade.” Amazingly enough, even with a latch key life filled crack, a parent’s incarceration, and senseless death around him (apparently at his own hands), there is always time to dance. In fact, taken at strictly face value, Shmurda celebrates the idea that he has the blackest of hearts, analogous to psychopath Lil Ze from City of God. Should there be outrage, celebration, or honest reflection?
Second single “Bobby Bitch” proclaims more of the same, giving you some nifty multis about murdering the opposition:
“And I'm down to catch a body, bitches, hit that hommy switch
And I bet that all these hollow tips gon' make his body twitch
But if I hit you with the shotty, bitch, I bet that body flip
Rasha caught him with them zombie tips and made his body spin.”
On “Living Life” Rowdy Rebel offers room-temperature salve, in (at least) understanding the morality of the situation, but feeling the necessity of maintaining caution with a firearm:
“Now what you know about that kitchen life
When we was pitching white?
People saying that I'm pitching right, but we ain't living right
I told Bobby keep that pistol tight, the way we living life”
The album maintains a familiar, already well-used tone, except for the lone change-up in closer, “Wipe The Case Away,” where Bobby let’s you know his personal life has changed for the better, to his mother’s relief:
“My momma glad a nigga changed his ways
I was in and out of drama each and every day
We was flipping selling hard at my mama place
Nigga, we was trapping hard like it was '88.”
No new foundations were laid with this extended play, just additional layers into an already rocky landscape. Taking a broader view, Shmurda was likely given six to seven figures for signing with Epic/Sony. Frankly, Shmurda She Wrote is a prison record disguised in a fun dance, and a song with no hook: a cosigned and paid production of dangerously borderline minstrelism, unknowingly to the young rapper.
'It’s just so catchy though.'