An all-star project with notable highs...

The brainchild of Floridian Taz Taylor, ‘Internet Money’ went from a group of likeminded producers selling ‘type beats’ on the world-wide web to a full-blown, mega-profitable industry heavyweight. Locked away in their Hollywood Hills mansion base, the divisive production collective spent two weeks cooking up their debut collaborative album, ‘B4 THE STORM’. The project features some of US rap and trap’s big hitter’s, from Gunna and Future to A Boogie wit da Hoodie and Young Nudy.

With an abundance of hands on deck in the production booth, and 15+ artists contributing vocals, that ‘B4 THE STORM’ would be a bloated project, lacking cohesion was almost a certainty. The journey along a 17 track album needs to be a smooth one; listening to ‘B4 THE STORM’ is like sitting on the Piccadilly Line, with far too many jarring stops interrupting the overall flow of the trip.

That being said, there are flashes of creative flair and innovation, they’re just too few and far between. The dreamy production on Cochise & TyFontaine’s boastful ‘Right Now’ feels like the score to an underwater level on a Playstation game. While The Kid LAROI’s ‘Speak’ documents the relationship troubles attached to his “rockstar lifestyle” over ‘Stranger Things’ style synths and a speaker-rattling bass. Production like this should’ve formed the centrepiece of a leaner project, elevating the lesser known, up and coming artists in the process.

Unsurprisingly, Swae Lee and Future’s collaboration is a high point. ‘Thrusting’ is a bubbly, infectious cut, full of dancehall elements. Don’t be surprised if Drake jumps on a remix! The contrast of Swae’s airy vocals with Future’s textbook auto-tune swagger is a pleasing one, and our problematic fave’s brag that he’s “surfin' through the pussy like a jetski” is one hell of an image.

‘No Option’ is the project’s true standout. Kevin Gates has built his name on unashamedly candid, confessional lyricism. He’s at his best here, with a piano-led melody creating a cinematic backdrop for him to share his truths about the scar incarceration left on his young family, “I thought when I got out of jail in Florida / I wouldn't sit in a cell again / Broke the lil' promise I made to my daughter / That I wouldn't put her through hell again.”

6/10

Words: Robert Kazandjian

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