Song-by-Song Review of TBA EP by A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie

A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie – TBA (EP)

Released: 28 October 2016

On my first listen, I wasn’t feeling this. But after a few listens it began to stick with me. TBA is a 6-song R&B/Rap-inspired EP by Bronx native, A-Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, that tries to be innovative with cadences over contemporary bass-influenced Rap and Rap-R&B inspired production. A-Boogie mostly succeeds at this, however there are other moments on the EP where his influences weigh too heavily on his sleeve.

On one listen, my opinion of TBA was that it sounded like someone picked up Drake’s Comeback Season, So Far Gone, and Thank Me Later, dusted them off, and then mixed it with a generic rapper boy off the block flow. However after a few listens, I began to find A-Boogie’s voice in the music.

Song by song breakdown

1. Ransom: 4/5

Feels like this could be his anthem. Interesting choice of beat and the autotune is appropriate here. His delivery isn’t what you’d expect over this beat and on first take it doesn’t make complete sense. But his use autotune helps and the melodies he’s catching are serious – he switched his flow up 3 times in the first verse alone, seamless. The hook is aesthetically pleasing and an exhibits prime syllable matching. The hook’s rhyme structure is executed so effortlessly on the part of A-Boogie that it almost sounds elementary because it sounds so simple.

There are other times like on the 2nd verse of Ransom where A-Boogie chooses to abandon lyrical coherence for melody and flow. There’s nothing wrong with making that choice, A-Boogie’s “Another one na na na na na na” melody ending on the 3rd verse sounds good musically, but the entire second verse feels awkward, lyrically. Partially because what he’s saying is a generic regurgitation of what most other rappers are saying right now.

2. Macaroni: 4/5

Macaroni would work really well as a diss song. Like, as if A-Boogie is actually rapping to you about smashing your chick then made a song to you about it. If this is what that is, then that gives this song some extra points. There’s a point on this song where A Boogie sounds like a rapper, rather than a R&B singer that raps, more than any other time on the EP, when he catches a mean flow towards the end of the first verse:

“Is it cuz I’m really putting on where my city at?/

Highbridge nigga from the Bronx where it get gritty at/ 

I be smoking on Gorilla Glue I’m smokin’ GG pack/

3. Timeless: 3.5/5

I like the mellow-yelling song direction. The dancehall drums beating in low pass sound great under A Boogie’s flow.. and I think I understand what A Boogie is trying to do in this song – it sounds like he’s trying to deploy a myriad of memorable melodic moments and flows on one beat.

It sounds like he freestyled on the beat several different ways then put together the most interesting parts. I say this because a lot of what he’s saying in this song feels disconnected and doesn’t particularly flow well. It seems like he was fishing for melodies and threw his favorite ones on the beat. This is a reoccurring problem that I have with A Boogie’s music on this EP – his willingness to sacrifice lyrical coherence for melodies. This doesn’t always work because his vocal delivery is leaves something to be desired. To be fair, the beat on “Timeless” calls for multiple flows because there are several beat changes, but some parts of the song feel awkward because of the disconnection I spoke about and the SFG Drake “Pour a lil purple and make it all pinkish” impression at the end of the last verse. However despite my digressions, A-Boogie has multiple memorable moments on Timeless.

4. 99 Problems & Messages: 4.5/5

Floats all over this and the use of a voicebox/autotune actually makes sense and feels non-forced. His flow sounds a lot more focused and zoned-in here, and for some reason this song sounds and feels more polished than the others on this EP.

5. Baecation: 2.75/5

Baecation isn’t flattering at all which makes it feel ineffective as a simping song. But I can’t knock it too much because it’s in the same vein as a West Coast, Teeflii or Ty$ type song. They’re unorthodox artists whose R&B intimate songs tend to cater to women by way of sexually crude lyrics, melodic synths, and bouncy choruses. Sonically, “Baecation” would sound better if A-Boogie could execute it without autotune.

6. Wrong Nigga: 3.75/5

The first verse on this song is one of my favorite moments on the EP. And the last verse has so many Drake vibes. It’s almost hard to take it serious. But despite the heavy Drake interpolation, A-Boogie picked good flows for this song. He could’ve used better and more effective production (to bounce off his melodies) though.

Style critique

What immediately jumped out to me is that A-Boogie’s isn’t vocally versatile – he’s not a particularly good singer or rap lyricist, so he finds a happy medium with the help of a voice box/autotune effect. Don’t get me wrong, A-Boogie has a myriad of flows on this EP, but he often resorts to a similar few deliveries/vocal inflections when both singing and rapping. This might be because of the autotune, which seems to be a gift and a curse for A-Boogie.

A-Boogie should consider not putting out another majority-autotuned project to follow this up because his natural voice doesn’t necessarily sound good in a voicebox/autotune for as much as he uses it. This isn’t an occurrence that’s exclusive to A-Boogie, many great singers and rappers with awesome singing voices and good deliveries sound strange in autotune. However, if you take the autotune away from A Boogie, I don’t think he’d be nearly effective as an artist. If his vocal ability were upgraded, specifically his singing, he would be more interesting as a vocalist. In terms of rap delivery, it doesn’t appear that A-Boogie has much to offer, as a rapper he leans on his flow and ability to catch melodies more than anything.

As a rapper, A-Boogie leans on his flow and ability to catch melodies more than anything

Vocally, A-Boogie seems to be very inspired by Drake and surprisingly enough, Dej Loaf. Dej popularized the infamous “f-AHM-ly” pronunciation of “family” on her hit “Try Me” and A-Boogie channels it a couple times in this EP. Other than the familiar pronunciation of “fahmly”, A-Boogie flat-out sounds like Dej Loaf numerous times throughout the EP. And style-wise, he favors Drake heavily, especially So Far Gone-era Drake. Production-wise, A-Boogie seems to picks lighter production with a pop flare that sits behind him on this EP rather than heavier, more outward production.

Final Verdict

Overall this is a 6-song R&B/Rap EP that tries to be innovative with cadences over contemporary Rap and Rap-R&B inspired production, and succeeds many times. But I can’t help but feel like this EP would be better if A-Boogie would record more interesting lyrics more often, like on the 1st verse on “Wrong Nigga” and the 1st verse of “Ransom” and on “99 Problems & Messages“. His flows and melodies are fine.

I can tell that A-Boogie is an artist that pays a lot of attention to detail to his songs because of his variety of melody over beats, but it’s a bit ironic that an artist with that level of attention to detail would write so many throwaway bars.

Rating: 3.75/5 Pretty good, not bad by any means, but nothing special. It has a few moments.

Favorite Moments:

  • 1st verse on “Wrong Nigga
  • 1st verse on “Macaroni
  • 99 Problems and Messages
  • Wrong Nigga”
  • 1st verse on “Ransom

*Rating Scale – 4.5 – 5 = Amazing, not necessarily perfect, but an excellent track. 

4 – 4.5 = A great track.
3.5-  4 = Pretty good, nothing special, but not bad by any means.
3 – 3.5 = Not very memorable, nothing spectacular., an average song.
2.5 – 3 = Flaws are present, a mediocre song.
2 – 2.5 = Major flaws. A Bad song, this song shouldn’t have happened.
1.5 – 2 = Terrible.
.5 -1.5 = Unlistenable to.

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