Besides doing away with hooks that skewed frat-boy (“So Chill”), what were spitfire thoughtful lines on Sender have become genuinely compelling storytelling. “Lately wanna rage on the daily / Mainly ’cause the pain go away” is the most easily repeatable lyric on “Like Girl, Like Guy,” but it’s far from the most intriguing. The guy’s getting better, which is exciting.
There’s a nice variety in production, too, and Sallee’s as confident on serious, bass-heavy tracks as he is on cheesier, genuinely fun ones like “Ew,” “OKC to KC” and “Never Ever.” The latter cuts are blessed by a Drake-like sense for funny quips, like when he refers to his dream girl as “the holy grail of ponytails.”
The kid — still just 24 — has room to grow, however. His storytelling’s usually interesting, but it’s still lacking in real emotional connotations. Sallee insists on his love for Oklahoma City, his own determination to “make it” big in hip-hop and such, but he does so by speeding the cadence of his flow, not by exposing his inner conflicts.
Open your heart, dude, and the next one’ll be a gem. In the meantime, thanks for Flaws. It’s a ton of fun, and downloadable for free at joshsallee.com. —Matt Carney