Nothing out of the ordinary with that, but it oughta tell you that if you’re looking for a true spitter, then look elsewhere. From get-go track “Last Name London,” the Brooklyn rapper(ish) makes it clear that he’s aiming for modern pop-star status. I offer the following as evidence:
• the Kanye West “Lost in the World” low-end sample that drives “Last Name London” along;
• the airy, vocal arrangements (again, inspired by Kanye) that follow it; and
• his use of worn-out pop tropes such as the introduction song (“Last Name London”), road tune (“All Around The World,”), mid-track phone call (“Stop It”) and use of the phrase “speed of light” (“Wine and Chocolates”).
Midway through the third track, “Wine and Chocolates,” I realized Mr. London’s voice bears great resemblance to that of TV on the Radio frontman Tunde Adebimpe (he doesn’t do nearly as much with tone or timbre, though), shortly before realizing that the song itself is really just a few verses’ worth of interesting lyrics short of a TVOTR song. In fact, with some twitchier synths, a fully developed funk-guitar riff and a kick drum that hit with full force, “Wine and Chocolates” might actually just be “Crying,” the second track on “Dear Science.” Turns out TVOTR’s Dave Sitek worked with London on his “Lovers Holiday” EP. At least he’s borrowing from talented musicians, I guess.
The album really loses its steam midway through single “Why Even Try,” which cartoonishly inflates the bassline and R&B female-sung hook from Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy,” inverting the original song’s tale of aspiration to cries of “If you think you’re special, you’re probably not.” How’s that for depressing?
“Timez Are Weird These Days” is a whole lot of slick, digital production, but light on soul. When he’s at his swagging-est (“Girls Girls $”), London’s only a fraction of what Kanye’s built. At least he’s got his sights set high. —Matt Carney