UK rapper Fredo helps push a big week for the UK rap scene with his sophomore studio album 'Money Can't Buy Happiness'. The rapper's famous for his heavy hitting bangers and rough delivery where he talks on gangs and trapping, I don't expect there to be too much of a difference related to that this album, but since I was never his biggest fan I'm hoping he can finally unleash his potential at the start of 2021 - question is, would he?
The production, handled by fellow collaborator/rapper Dave, it mostly dark, cold, metallic production throughout, as on tracks like 'Back to Basics' as he's rapping about gangs and money on this, but lyrically he's quite poor. While I don’t find the lyrics in the long verse interesting, he has the mic presence and the grittiness make up for that and Dave was really in his bag for the instrumental, a really solid second track to the album. The 808s and trap patterns on this bang, like on tracks such as 'Do You Right', which overall is another heavy, banger of a trap beat as he talks about the single life, sex and girls. With a catchy hook, and a heavy hitter of a track, it's not my favourite but a nice song still. The choice of samples as well was very impressive and they always sounded good, especially on 'Blood in My Eyes' which has this really emotional and dark beat, them female hums sampled in sound great with some witty punchlines without ruining the emotive tone he’s going for, "I tried help my doggie for sure // Then he turned Oliver // And, man, they kept asking for more // It took money for me to finally see // That the best things in life are for free // I'll give all the shit I have // Just to bring all my n****s back", as he reflects on problems in his life, such as fake friends, his relationship with his daughter and baby mama, life of trapping etc. This has one of the best beats I’ve heard for a while, Fredo’s delivery emits such emotion and gets you gripped instantly, what a song, easily the best on here and arguably song of the year so far – hauntingly beautiful. Overall the production bangs on this from start to finish, very atmospheric and suits Fredo’s rough style.
Fredo as a lyricist isn’t very strong, he tends to fall into the average category, shown on songs like 'I Miss', "Yeah, I'm just breakin' it down (Facts) // Yeah, I miss workin' it hard (Trap) // Now I'm a star // I just make drinks like I work in a bar (Haha)", as he talks about what he misses from the youth like trapping and guns over this lowkey piano, deep 808s, melancholy and dark atmosphere all at the same time. It’s a good track, not one of my favourites but that’s just testament to what a strong album this is. He does have his moments with some hard bars and solid punchlines, like on the opener 'Biggest Mistake', "Doubtin' myself was my biggest mistake // Trustin' someone was also my biggest mistake // We started as dargs, but he finished a snake // Can't run 'round there to slither away", as he talks on his come up, childhood and life now in fame with these heavy 808s, cold piano keys and synths too. It's a fantastic start, a perfect tone setter and the verses just explodes into life to get you so hyped for rest of the verse. He shows a more introspective and emotional side with his lyricism on this however, like on 'What Can I Say', "All them years you been in jail, you never even seen the world // Your daughter's 'bout to be born and you'll never get to see your girl // I just turned a father, so it hit me a lil' harder", as it’s a tribute song to 2 of his mates who were killed/died over these deep 808s and emotional piano to create a sad mood. It's a really good end to this great album, such an emotional ending which is realistically how this album had to end, fantastic job Fredo on this song and this album. Flow wise it's smooth and his rough delivery always worked well for him - and it's no different here.
The feature’s on here all perform to high level – every single one, especially Dave on 'Money Talks' who has so many great punchlines and bars and comes with such an oomph and menace with his delivery, "Coochie freshly shaven // Man's got expectations // Old ting try flex on man last week with a dead baecation // Baby, I go Heathrow more than your man goes petrol station". The haunting female vocals over this booming trap beat sounds brilliant as the track talks on trapping drugs, weapons and money. This song makes me desperate for a new Dave project of some sorts, he defo had the stronger verse but Fredo was still good and it proves these 2 together on a track are incapable of missing. The hook’s are great when performed, Summer Walker, a real shock of a feature on here, absolute kills the hook on 'Ready', it's so good and the the 808s on this are amazing, such a quality beat as the song focuses on killing his opps and the lifestyle he grew up in, with some pretty heavy bars, "It's funny, where I'm from, guns are pressin' a lot // But if you're from here in life, you have less of a shot // Little Nathan got life, we couldn't tell him to stop // Now he's doin' twenty-eight years whether ready or not". It's one of the best Fredo songs so far, just so catchy, hard hitting and produced amazingly. A posthumous Pop Smoke feature also went down a treat on 'Burner On Deck' as he brings the murky feel and great energy all at the same time, while Young Adz's melodies feel in place here, fairly catchy and enjoyable – always hit or miss with Adz and this was a hit. We get a really dark and eerie drill beat which suits the menacing atmosphere at content of rolling round and shooting the opps, and yeah this is a banger, the hook’s catchy, the chemistry between the 3 is surprisingly good, and it’s just such a heavy hitting song. All features added to the track and made it more enjoyable.
The album follows a very clear theme of Fredo’s trapping youth and shooting his opps, shown on songs like 'Spaghetti', where unfortunately Fredo is lyrically below par over a standard piano based trap beat, which is melancholy and decent at best. It’s not bad, but it’s pretty weak compared to some songs on this album, it just seems quite generic and not to mention the lyricism is poor and the flow gets annoying in the first verse, suppose it’s slightly catchy but not enough for me to care for the song. He doesn’t sway from this topic often, but not always focusing on it in a descriptive way but rather an emotional way, like on 'Aunt's Place' which typically talks about the drug addiction that surrounds him, contrasted with how he sold drugs to make a living with some slick little lines in there, "My auntie's on drugs, man, she's living by the needle // If I leave her 'round my chips, she'll be stealing like a seagull". The eerie bells and spongy drum kicks sound good and while a decent song, it's not great, it just didn’t leave a lasting impression on me, a lowlight on here. There’s the odd song about girls on here, but overall it’s quite interesting but not the most deep content wise of this topic, but it does have its unique anecdotes related to him.
To conclude, this album surprised me, it’s his best yet with the production being so clean and Fredo’s performance is consistently great throughout this. Hard hitting, bangers throughout that you can’t stop paying attention to for a second and he also shows an emotional side too with some heavy lyricism. The features all add to the tracks, but don’t outshine Fredo – he still does his thing. A few songs are not up to scratch with the others, but definitely overshadowed by the high quality on this as the UK rap scene really has started 2021 strong.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: Biggest Mistake, Back to Basics, Ready, Money Talks, Burner On Deck, Blood in My Eyes, What Can I Say
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: Spaghetti
OVERALL RATING: Solid 8/10