Mike Twice stands lyrically beside himself on his solo, DJ MLK hosted mixtape, Late Bloomer. The way he bends and shifts through styles and cadences throughout, sometimes it feels like there is two of him spitting. Representing East Atlanta, Twice sounds equally at home over bounce-heavy 808 thumping basslines as he does over ATL-certified extraterrestrial backdrops as he does over that classic boom-bap -- kicking a blend of unrelenting bars of braggadocio and contextual relevance reminiscent of those two dope boys in a Cadillac. It’s expansive and impressive, sneakily profound, never contradictory. It’s the type of mixtape that defines Replay Value.
“So bold. / No, I ain’t sold my soul but you can rent me / Under this condition / 100 dispositions, / Sign to this permission, / Timed and in position. / And I can sleep when I die. / Decline intermission,” Twice delivers on “Set Me Free,” finding unexpected grooves in the neck snapping, soul sampled soundscape. He does this quite often throughout, crafting otherworldly rhyme schemes littered with alliteration then dropping them in places lesser emcees never detect. Call it lyrical exercise scattered over 18 wide-ranging tracks. On “The Root,” Twice dissects the money’s paradoxical properties -- first you got it, then you don’t, then you got it again -- then relates it back to politics:
“They blow the whistle on us / But we know they dirty. / They point a missile on us / So we wake up early / Just to hit the snooze. / Just to get the news / A couple hours late. / They tell us pick and choose. / Tell us participate. / They steady campaigning. / I’m watching this debate. / This is a scam, ain’t it? / I know that I ain’t crazy. / I know that I ain’t tripping. / I might not pay no taxes / But I be payin‘ attention.”
“Bad Guy” and “Twice Going In” sound built for big speakers and “Dream”’s brooding bass line is perfect for Twice’s dark narrative. “Kumate,” “Bloodsport” and “Hookless” reinforce cypher-wilting wordplay while “Forever” reinforces the innate introspection that equally embodies Late Bloomer. MT ably wields every tool in his lyrical utility belt, pristinely pulling them out, maximizing every beat.
Is Late Bloomer the perfect project? No. It’s a bit long and subtly redundant. It features enough one verse rappity-raps about rapping to keep it from feeling like an album and his penchant for freeform ramblings at the beginning of songs and on interludes is punch-yourself-in-the-face-type annoying. And “Alright” -- the only obvious chick aimed track -- is the definition of filler. It’s out of place; the only out of place song on an expansive, forward leaning debut tour de force by the East Atlanta Emcee. Regardless of where it's title comes from,Late Bloomer is right on time.
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