Rap collaborations can be infuriating beasts. Uniting disparate MCs in the studio isn't easy, with many being so protective of their individual passions and ambitions that the chemistry simply doesn't gel.
It's a mark of the clear respect and friendship between Lil Baby and Lil Durk, then, that 'The Voice Of The Heroes' develops a coherent voice, with the two working towards a common goal. Sure, it's not perfect - at 18 tracks it could do with some trimming - but, quality control aside, what emerges is a highly effective link up between two Major League players.
Opening with a burst of colour, the record moves into life with the bombastic title track, the day-glo electronics of '2040' and the London on da Track enabled bursts of rap energy that propel 'Still Hood'.
Meek Mill's performance on the skippy 'Still Runnin' injects a different flavour into the album, but a flat middle section - 'Okay' feels formless, while 'That's Facts' feels like a studio jam - robs the album of its velocity.
'Up The Side' boosts the energy levels, with Young Thug's pointed guest bars illuminating the central duo. 'Make It Out' is a stark piece of street poetry, one of the project's most effective use of its potent interlocking parts, lyrically moving and musically daring.
Featuring an hour of music, 18 tracks, and some iconic guests, nothing is spared on 'The Voice Of The Heroes'. Lil Durk's fourth full length project in two years, it finds the Chicago artist pushing himself relentlessly. For Lil Baby, too, it offers a sharp about-turn from last year's reflective 'My Turn'. A bold gesture weighed down with excess, 'The Voice Of The Heroes' is a worthy experiment, one that feels destined to be a cult favourite.
Words: Robin Murray
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