bbno$ returns with his unique brand of tongue-in-cheek rap to deliver more organised chaos on album ‘bag or die.’
Emerging from humble SoundCloud origins, the underdog of rap has built a cult following on TikTok, played the mainstage at Reading and Leeds and amassed over a billion streams globally on Spotify. With surreal music videos and an ‘anything goes’ approach to his lyrics, bbno$ has carved a name for himself as someone who remains reluctant in taking his art too seriously. New album ‘bag or die’ is no different.
With no song hitting the three-minute mark, these tracks are small bursts of intense energy, complete with tightly constructed lyrics and unique hooks. ‘bag or die’ is a particularly shining moment on the album, opening with an intricate piano solo which launches in a uniquely Latin beat and finally slides into a quintessentially bright bbno$ beat. ‘i see london i see france’ contains nonsense lyrics and serves as a brilliant example of bbno$’ nonchalant tone and cool, easy rap technique which works so well.
Meanwhile, ‘top gun’ is excellently produced. This track doesn’t force your attention, like some of the artist’s previous viral hits such as ‘edamame’, but it’s impossible to deny the quality of the production, the catchy beat, the smoothness in lyrical delivery.
The album does falter slightly in the second-half with ‘sophisticated’ and ‘vasectomy’ seeing overused hooks leaning towards being repetitive, almost tedious. Despite this, there remains an undeniable sense of stylishness to the album. ‘piccolo’ and ‘robert patekson’ showcase the musicians intricacies in the construction of lyrics and slick vocal performance. Meanwhile, ‘e-girl anthem’ feels so tangibly positive, there’s something of an easy summer evenings here. Whilst the overall construction of a lot of this album feels formulaic, the small details such as bbno$’ playful control of his voice, stop this album from slipping into mediocrity.
There’s a self-awareness on the album that the toilet humour lyrics and repetitive, (borderline tedious) beats won’t be changing music history. But bbno$ isn’t here to change music history. bbno$ comes from a generation of DIY musicians and producers who have built a following from their relatable online personas, constant references to internet culture and hectic live shows. There’s truly a sense this album was made by a group of friends hanging in the studio and regardless of the fact the album fails to break any new ground, bbno$’ persona and intelligence stands firm.
bbno$ is here, now, making music rooted in contemporary culture for himself and his fans. If you get it, you get it. And if you don’t, bbno$ doesn’t really care.
Words: Grace Dodd