Kirko Bangz is the type of artist that some people may not truly appreciate until hindsight becomes a factor. The young rapper with the heavy Texas influence may sound like a poor man’s Drake to the casual listener; he relies on Autotune heavily, and he’s not exactly the best singer you’ll hear this year. However, there’s something authentic about his style that cannot be ignored.
With acts like A$AP Rocky and the aforementioned Drake biting the formula that’s made Texas stand out, it’s refreshing to hear someone from the new generation of artists attempt to snatch it back. With his ability to craft songs, write hooks, and mold potent melodies (evidenced by the two singles he helmed that broke into heavy radio rotation, “What Yo Name Iz” in early 2011, and currently “Drank In My Cup”), Bangz has the growing fan-base to eventually make the leap. With his latest mixtape, The Progression 2, he plans to do just that.
That Texas presence is felt throughout the entire project; from the slow beats to the screw effect, Bangz uses all of them heavily, but doesn’t overdo it (which has been an issue with others that “bite” the style). “Knowmtalmbout” features Paul Wall and is by far one of the standout songs, due to how perfectly it encompasses the feel of TP2. There are other notable tracks as well; “Ugly B**ches” has Bangz almost scolding himself for the “mistakes” he’s made with unattractive females, “Play Me” has that “Houstatlantavegas” feel (but more raw), and his “Drank In My Cup” single still sounds solid enough to be placed on an album somewhere soon.
Bangz isn’t the most lyrical rapper you’ll hear, but he’s perfectly comfortable behind a microphone. Although he’s not content heavy, there are several instances where his lyrics pack more of a punch due to the conversational style he takes within the verse. It may not be “Lupe Fiasco” lyrical, but it more than gets the point across, with the best example being present all throughout “Trill Young N*gga,” most notably the last verse:
“I couldn’t wait to meet these famous people /
But now I feel like them people be the lamest people /
They be fightin’ for reality and fighting reality /
The shows, and ho*s wear gold without a salary /
I guess it’s all good, everything is all good /
Private school n*ggas get the pass to act all hood /
N*ggas never seen or passed through our hood /
But they can act like it? Sh** it’s all good… /
The project is a mix of original songs and re-imagined (remixed) tracks, from Drake’s “Crew Love” (“The Crew”) to DJ Khaled’s “I’m On One” (“Say Hello”). For the most part, Bangz does a good job of making them his own while blending his original music through the playlist. The result is an almost-seamless mixtape that isn’t for everyone, but hogs its Southern lane with a type of quality that could easily place Kirko Bangz in the category with new up-and-comers. As long as he continues with his progression (no pun intended) and shows that he’s more than radio-friendly, he could get there much sooner than later.