Rising rapper’s cold charisma is channelled through 17 club-friendly tracks.
Louis Pattison 2011-03-17
Juaquin ‘Waka’ Malphurs was born in Jamaica, Queens, the New York district that’s spawned rappers from 50 Cent and Lloyd Banks to A Tribe Called Quest – but it’s as a resident of Atlanta, Georgia, the cradle of Dirty South rap, that he’s hit the big time.
The son of hip hop impresario Debra Antney, sometime manager of Gucci Mane and Nicki Minaj, Waka appeared alongside Gucci in 1017 Brick Squad and first cracked the charts in 2009 with O Let's Do It, a bullish cut of crude horns and ticking beats that cast its maker as gun-brandishing drug dealer crushing rival gangs in crime-racked Clayton County. Not the most nuanced of introductions, and despite its title referencing 2Pac’s shadowy alter-ego Makaveli, Flockaveli doesn’t go way deeper.
At 17 tracks long, with the lion’s share of tracks handled by rising Virginia producer Lex Luger, this is a swaggering, club-friendly collection that highlights Waka’s guttural delivery and apparently boundless enthusiasm. The likes of Bustin’ at ‘Em and Live by the Gun have something of the early 50 Cent in their blend of amoral violence and cold production snap, although hip hop fans partial to more cerebral fare may recognise some of the same paucity of content they hear in Fiddy. But excellent is Snake in the Grass, featuring Waka barking like a dog and a snappy cameo from female MC Cartier Kitten. And providing a rare downbeat note is For My Dawgs, a murky cut taking in mental illness and Waka’s injuries following an incident in 2010 that left him with a bullet in his right arm – although there’s little vulnerability here, just the fatalistic message that life grinds on until the bullet that finishes you.
If you want subtlety, though, you’ve come to the wrong place. Waka has a cold charisma, and it’s channelled successfully here, a presence that permeates Flockaveli utterly. On its own terms, it’s a lean, mean success – and questions about longevity can probably wait until the follow-up.