Release Date: December 13, 2011
Label: Vice/Warner Bros.
Give Gucci Mane and V-Nasty credit. Amid our current frantic race to realize the dim-witted dystopia of Mike Judge’s Idiocracy, the duo’s collaboration is fulfilled prophecy. BATYL is a 45-minute barrage of FML that’s almost impossible to muck through; the only thing more challenging would be calculating when you last heard a rap record this bad. When Vanilla Ice went nü-metal? When Joey Lawrence slipped his baby-baby banalities between episodes of Blossom? Here we have an atrocity so immaculate it transcends genre. This is Mariah Carey’s Glitter, “The Homer” as produced by Powell Motors, Tony “The Incredible Bulk” Mandarich, the Keymaster meeting the Gatekeeper. Pure fucking swagpocalyse.
You can’t say you didn’t see it coming. Over the past 18 months, Atlanta iconoclast Gucci Mane has racked up innumerable probation violations and tatted an ice-cream cone onto his face, seizing the title of Rap Game Tracy Jordan. V-Nasty is the Kreayshawn flunkie confederate famous for dropping more N-bombs than David Duke and making Kat Stacks seem like a savvy brand-builder. At all times, the Oakland-born rapper seems one step away from naming her next-born “Frito.”
Clearly, someone, somewhere whispered in Gucci’s ear: “Pssst. White-girl rappers. ‘Gucci Gucci.’ You and her. Stacks on stacks on stacks. You can call that ‘whip appeal,’ bitch.” The wheels started spinning. They both like white girls, white drugs, and money. Kismet. So before you could say “R.I.P. Northern State,” he and V-Nasty were holed up in the studio hemorraghing 12 songs devoted to whips, shoes, haters, and, of course, bitches.
This album is as deep as a raisin. But what’s most damning isn’t that it’s dumb and one-note. Plenty of rap albums have ridden this same formula to great success: See last year’s Swagger Fresh Freddie, wherein Mouse on tha Track had consecutive songs called “Stupid Like Them Hoes” and “Bizznezz Is Biznezz.” Being fun and funky earns you forgiveness for many shallow sins and spelling errors. But here, it’s the level of thoughtlessness and unintentional repetition that makes BAYTL so stupefying: It’s an album that manages to make Mouse on tha Track’s latest seem like The Autobiography of Fredrick Douglass.
Start at the bottom. As a rapper, V-Nasty couldn’t carry Charli Baltimore’s thong. Feebly appropriating the shout-rap Bay Area mob style of Jacka and Husalah, she lacks any narrative skill or wit, not to mention that she flows like a four-year-old whining after she got tripped in the spokes of her bike. Rhyme schemes? She rhymes whip and bitch roughly 14 times. Chick and bitch about 14 more times. At one point on “Fill My Shoes,” she brags that she’ll “leave a bitch broke / Like my tooth / Ain’t even fucked the bitch / So I take a deuce.”
Meanwhile, two years removed from his last real triumph, The State vs. Radric Davis, Gucci crows: “In the club every day / You just once a month.” And that’s exactly how he sounds: exhausted. Gone are the irrepressible hooks of “Wonderful” and “Wasted,” or the labyrinthine rhyme schemes of “Classical.” This is all lemons, no “Lemonade.” Drunkenly aiming for a return to form, the rapper turns to longtime collaborator Zaytoven for all save one beat, but BAYTL sounds water-logged, as though rescued from a sunken hard drive stuffed with production that was passed-on in 2008. Instead, go stream “Space Cadets” from Future’s latest mixtape, Astronaut Status, a track that showcases Zaytoven’s ingratiating evolution beyond sub-Kurt Weill carnival music bashed out in MIDI.
But rappers have life spans like NFL running backs. The mantle of Atlanta Swag/Trap Rapper of the Moment belongs to Future or 2Chainz; BAYTL feels like a desperate attempt to catch hold of a trend that never quite was. Sad thing, there’s a story here — about a 21-year-old impoverished and ignorant bisexual white rapper with two biracial children and a penchant for dropping the N-word like most people drink water. Somehow, she gets the opportunity to record with her hero, a bipolar ex-con conscious that his reign has slipped away. Yet, rather than take any risks or ask any honest questions of themselves or each other or attempt to understand why so many people object to their music, they dismiss the appalled as haters, offering insipid rhetoric best illustrated by V-Nasty’s claim that “they hating because I’m relevant.” Not for long. BAYTL does succeed in solving that old zen koan: What is the sound of the clap?