November 30, 2023

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Bobby Shmurda: BodBoy EP Album Review

In 2014, amid a New York rap landscape increasingly devoid of mythological stories, Bobby Shmurda felt like the last of a dying breed. Though his ascension took place on the now-defunct platform Vine, Shmurda and his GS9 compatriots displayed a magnetism that could have extended past 15 minutes. The meme-ification of his signature song “Hot Nigga” (which peaked at No. 6 on the Hot 100) collided with his boisterous, bass-knocking performances on “Bobby Bitch” and Rowdy Rebel’s “Computers,” forming the summer of Shmurda. But that December, in the process of recording a formal debut, Shmurda was arrested and eventually sentenced to seven years in prison, cutting off his meteoric rise and freezing the progression of his artistry in its infancy.

The legend of Shmurda, who won acceptance from the city’s youth and old guard without pandering to either crowd, maintained his candidacy for the “King of New York” crown regardless. Without an album, his fledgling career was bolstered only by charisma and cockiness. But each track seemed to have an innate spark that made you feel as though you were witness to a bright new star. There was nothing revolutionary—just an overflowing personality laced with beats with all the bells and whistles. The new BodBoy EP, Shmurda’s first independent project since his release from prison in February 2021 and a preview of his promised debut Ready to Live, attempts more of the same. But it registers as little more than a rehashing of his previous peak, with a laundry list of boasts and threats that fail to capture the feeling from days of yore.

On paper, Shmurda follows a foolproof plan: Stick to what you know. But recreating prior success requires precise execution, and Bodboy’s sloppiness illuminates faults obscured in the fervor of 2014. “Hoochie Daddy,” a mad grab at TikTok virality with sped-up background vocals and bastardized Jersey club production, is a wholly insulting listen. “From the Slums,” with its crashing piano crescendo and pounding bass, feels ripped from a 2010s mixtape playing through a dirty earbud in Times Square. Shmurda runs tirelessly along the production’s rapid pace, interjecting breathy ad-libs that cloud his raps rather than shining through. Lines mush together, making stream-of-consciousness bars sound like your friend freestyling at the afters at 2 a.m. You don’t come to a Bobby Shmurda song for depth and capital L lyricism, but even if you can comprehend his bars, you’d be hard-pressed to find a cache of memorable phrases. His willingness to say whatever comes to mind produces some funny moments (“’Cause I was shooting in my slippers in the middle of the street,” he spits on “BodMon”), but the aimless rambles get old quick.

Yet there are joyful instances when Shmurda’s slapstick absurdity intersects with production forays into new regional territory. He treats the blaring production of “Glock Inside,” which sounds almost as if it were ripped from a Duke Deuce project, as his personal playground. The first thing we hear him say—“Jumped out my momma pussy straight into the trap”—is undeniably hilarious. His childish teasing comes off as endearing, and his one-liners shoot an acceptable percentage from the field. The hook of “Whole Brick” is a beacon that sounds like it should play every time he enters a room: When he shouts “I’m about to cop a whole brick!” alongside a legion of background voices, it feels like the celebration that his return to music ought to be.

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