Today's album review we look at one of the UK's biggest rappers AJ Tracey's new EP titled 'Secure the Bag! 2' - a sequel to the similarly titled. AJ has smashed the charts in the UK and even hit America in recent years - after his debut album he's needed to keep up this momentum and has tried to do that with this EP - but has he succeeded?
The production is decent but a bit disappointing - I expected it to hit more. It's full of trap beats with a cold, metallic feel, such as on 'Blow My Phone' where this heavy synth bass with cold metallic keys contrasts well enough and he does go hard with the bars, "Old friends talking 'bout me but they owe me their life (Yeah) // I've got rappers speakin' business but won't speak on their wife (But won't speak on their wife) // My young bull ain't makin' lunch but you'll get packed by his knife (Pack by his what?)". The track talks on being done with old flings and girls, focusing on himself and being successful but this is a boring song, his delivery just goes too soft and there’s nothing about it that stands out or grips you in. There's some really good beats, such as on 'Hikikomori' which has these twinkling, glossy beat with a misty bass and trap elements as the track focuses on flexing his wealth. AJ comes with a nice melody, solid flow and for the third time in a row we have another great banger of a track. There's also some eh beats on here and I just thought the production would be better and I'm slightly disappointed by it. 'Colombiana' has these sliding, unique synths over another cold beat which sounds good as he provides some hard bars and talks about the girls he gets and being better than his competition. He gives us a fun hook and flow, goes pretty hard and it’s a great ending to the album.
Lyrically he's also subpar - not to see he's bad but he don't come with the same charisma in his bars. There are a few funny highlights on here, such as on 'Red & Green', "Your girl give me brain, she a nerd (Hey) // I got art on my head like I'm Bari (Bari) // Fucked your lil' bitch, I won't say that I'm sorry (Nah)", as the track see's him flexing his assets, designer and women over this cold, metallic beat which is meh. The melody of the hook is so catchy, the flow is entertaining and it’s the first real great song of the album – he makes the beat sound better than it is. There’s also some hard bars as on 'No Chucks' as AJ comes in with nice wordplay, punchlines and braggadocio, "Went platinum on grime with Dave // Linked Aitch, and man made it rain (Okay, let's go) // I can't complain (No), my music's on GTA (That's right) // Them gems work so hard for a chain, I can sleep all day, still make more pay (No cap)", as he flexes his success and what it’s allowed him to buy from it. The piano based trap beat goes hard enough and it's a good song, it doesn’t stand out much but it’s an enjoyable listen – not close to his best work still. Overall though it isn’t like his debut album full of wit and great braggadocio. He comes with this fast flow he usually comes with and it packs energy in itself - solid flow and he also comes with that mean, energetic delivery for the most part but there are some songs where it just feels very meh and soft.
There's only 3 features on here - it's an EP though I didn't expect many. They’re good, nothing which stands out too much but enjoyable, such as Swoosh God on 'LA4AWEEK2' who drops some nasty bars with his hard delivery, "We're supposed to be in LA for a week but it turned to a few more (I'm stayin' over) // These hoes keep multiplyin', one to two and then two to four (Had enough)", and Sloan Evans who glides the beat effortlessly as the track talks on flexing, sex and being the best in the game. The cold, twinkling bells over these drill 808s sounds decent as this song has more life to it than the first, it's still not exactly a highlight of AJ’s career but it’s decent. I maybe would’ve wanted different features such as like Dave or even a MoStack, but I’m not complaining – slowthai was a nice surprise though on 'Graveyard Shift' as he goes so hard on this, I actually wanted him to be longer over this banging, dark trap beat. The track talks on working hard and hustling on the streets to acquiring the wealth they have now, and AJ gives an example of him being a bit basic with the wordplay - basic not horrible, "Got the horsepower like Ralph (Like Ralphy) // And we gotta stick that Lauren (That polo)". We’re picking up some momentum now, the whole song goes hard – slowthai stole the show but both turned up and it's my favourite song so far.
There's no real content it’s all about (as the title suggests) making money, flexing what comes with that money and his success, as on the opener 'Yumeko' which doesn't have too much of a focus over these psychedelic keys and spacey vibe. The bars are quite corny throughout but sort of in a funny way and the hooks nice, the beat and verses are quite meh though - his delivery just makes him sound like he doesn’t want to be there – overall not bad just mid. He tells us he had to hustle on the streets to get where he is today a lot too, as on 'Triggered' where he talks on bringing his gang with him on the come up, girls and his luxurious lifestyle over this standard trap beat which does a job but does’t stand out. Lyrically he's eh but he's back with a banger here, he provides great energy and a hard delivery to the song with an entertaining flow and a solid hook. I don’t listen to AJ Tracey for content but it’s not really gripping on here, I would’ve liked maybe a personal track or two.
To conclude, I like this album – but it’s probably my least favourite from him. I just don’t think the hooks were as catchy, the production banged as much or the atmosphere of it is was as smooth as his previous work. It’s short, but not as snappy as I’d like – definitely listenable and I get some enjoyment out of it, but slightly disappointing. Some songs for the playlist still, and I'm still looking forward to what comes next from AJ Tracey and while this sounds like a negative review but it’s not, I just thought 9 AJ tracks would all be solid and they weren’t, I also don’t think any songs on here are his best work even if I like them – it's still a decent enough EP.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: Red & Green, Graveyard Shift, Hikikomori, No Chucks, Triggered, Colombiana
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: Blow My Phone
OVERALL RATING: Light 6.5/10