By Mathieu N. Frasier
Part 1. An Introduction
“Drugs, Sex and Fears” is a mixtape released by the amateur rapper Adoni$.
That’s all I know about it.
Adoni$ didn’t get back to me to provide any further information for the introduction, so I really can’t tell you about the emcee’s history, his level of success, or how many mixtapes he released. This is kind of lucky for me, because I’m rushing this out to reach a deadline. (I actually reached it this time, which is crazy considering how poor my work ethic is.)
Regardless of having absolutely no information to write a solid introduction about the emcee, you’ll probably receive all the information you’ll care to know about him from this review and his mixtape anyways. With this in mind, let’s dive in.
Part 2. The Review
“Drugs, Sex and Fears” is another one of those amateur released mixtapes where the emcees don’t have any original production, so I can’t break down the beats and tell you what’s good or bad about them. (Which might actually be beneficial for me, because I’m trying to rush out content that’s both helpful for the artist, and short enough to actually have readers stick around to finish the post. Despite the fact mixtapes with stolen beats are usually a clear sign of a lousy tape, at least it means I can brush through them that much quicker.) As for whether the beats have been arranged or chosen correctly to make the mixtape feel like a complete work as opposed to a bunch of songs thrown together, the latter seems like a fitting end for the equation.
In regards to our host, I’m not quite sure what he was going for, but by the time he stops rapping I’m sure it’s going to change into a very different product. Adoni$ has a distinctive, cartoon-y style that separates himself from other rappers, which I commend, but besides this I don’t many positive things to say about him. He presents himself as one of those “rapper’s rapper” types, where main subjects include boasting, and main drawing points involve lyricism. The problem is he sounds like he started rapping about 3-7 months ago, and really doesn’t have the boasts or lyricism to make him a Canibus (pre-“Rip The Jacker” era) or Chino Xl. (Fucking, any era is amazing!) So instead of getting lines like “I rip raps, hardcore raps rushin’ you to the floor mat, put you in the figure four, break your thorax” or “Put it on, one class of car I can afford has not been built, I can’t afford cookies that’s even though I’m label mates with Milk,” we get lines like these:
Be running a muck
Fucking a slut
My nuts in her butt
Go rough in the mud
Or hard in the paint
So much bars in the tank
I’m starting to faint
Lyricism was never about the words you use but how you use them, so I’m going to go ahead and give this guy credit for not trying to rhyme giant words like “photosynthesis” or “paleontologist.” (As a rapper, this is an important technique to hold in your arsenal.) That being said, poorly used small words are just as bad, if not worse, than poorly used complicated ones, so there’s really not much to commend here. I’ll give him points for not trying to stick with one rhyme scheme, and for having a unique enough style to separate himself from most rappers I can think of, but I’ll deduct points for flow, which consists of several awkward pauses where our host waits for the beat to catch up to him. This, as one would imagine, makes are host sound very unnatural.
Our host also has a habit I’ve attacked in the past, which is letting the rhymes dictate his subject matter, as displayed in the following example:
Welcome to lyrical combat, we on that
Score one, And-One like balls back
This verse has more word play than a cross word puzzle, run
Lines when I hustle, but I start with blocks
Wolf down your food, so I stab your flock
Leave you chickens headless, like a retarded cock
The bars above come off as a barrage of unrelated concepts strung together by our host’s rhymes. The messages are cryptic and often random, like the mention of “And-One” and lines like “Wolf down your food, so I stab your flock,” which hosts two ideas that seem completely unrelated. You have to question if he would write this ambiguously had he not been deliberately looking for rhymes.
Granted, most emcees let their rhyme schemes and sentence structure dictate the direction of their sentences to a certain extent, but a good emcee should let his rhymes revolve around the content as opposed to having his content revolve around his rhymes. Lyricists are essentially writers, authors and poets, and much like their literary predecessors, an emcee’s craftsman ship should be used to make an idea or vision interesting as opposed to letting their craftsmanship form their concept.
Finally, Adoni$’ subject matter, whether it’s established by his rhymes or simply made from his own creativity, is, more often than not, boring. Take this short verse for example:
I’m like a tornado with a time bomb inside I learned
The lesson, my pen through lyrical homicide, I rhyme
Back-to-back, play on words, smoke the blunt to get to sleep
Began to shake at first, night terrors create the birth
Premonitions of a fatal curse, got up out of bed
Dragged a comb across my head, my friends search for the path
They are lost instead
The lyrics have very little rhyme schemes to keep it’s listeners interested, it’s imagery is limited, and the content is generally ambiguous. Our host speaks of “premonitions of a fatal curse,” as well as his friends being “lost” when they “search for the path,” but he doesn’t elaborate on what any of this means. There’s a similar problem with the simile at the beginning, as there is absolutely no hint as to how he is “like a tornado with a time bomb inside.”
Part 3. The Epilogue
Status: Not Recommended
As much as I still hate delivering this kind of bad news to artists, I simply cannot recommend this mixtape. Our host’s style and subject matter does sound natural in context of his own character, and his creativity is unique in contrast to many other emcees, but that alone is not enough to recommend a mixtape littered with awkward pauses, poor sentence structure, forced rhyming, and boring content. The negatives clearly outweigh the positives.
My first piece of advice to Adoni$ is to continue writing, because nothing’s going to make you a better lyricist than becoming familiar with words and using trial and error to find out which patterns work and which ones don’t. (That being said, don’t let further progression with your skill interfere with your overall writing style and subject matter, because it’s clearly different from other rappers, it seems natural to who you are, and it might have potential for future verses.) Secondly, study description. When you tell an anecdote, I should be able to see it play out in my head, and that’s something I currently can’t do with your work. (I recommend listening to more Ghostface Killah and Raekwon for this. The imagery on “Sonny’s Missing” is magnificent.) Lastly, change your flow so that you speak in full sentences, as opposed to sentence fragments. The speech difference between rapping and talking should be a subtle one, so the audience doesn’t realize the real effort being put into it. When you rap in sentence fragments, it’s just going to draw the audience’s attention to this aspect of your art, thus distracting them from the overall product.
Work on these tips first before working out your other issues.