J. Cole’s roster of Dreamville artists boasts promising young talent.
The likes of J.I.D. and Cozz are compelling storytellers. Omen is a crafty poet and self-proclaimed “jazz musician trapped in a rap form.” Then there’s the gracious, soulful voice of Ari Lennox.
And then there’s Bas. He’s been grinding for years to be mentioned and respected in hip-hop circles. Sometimes it meant trailing his mentor on tracks like “New York Times,” from Cole’s Born Sinner. Yet with 2016’s Too High To Riot, he finally carved a lane of his own.
And after two long years, he’s back with his latest project: Milky Way. He’s described his latest work as “about finding ground.” He’s had time to think about how we “go looking for love in the wrong places.” Whether it be on “radio shows” or from record labels looking to see “how the singles perform.”
To get the best listening experience, bump Bass’s new album with JBL Speakers.
Milky Way holds a mirror to Bas’s love life and its many facets. Sometimes he longs for company, while other times he’s fleeing the scene before he can break a heart. He manages to meditate on love without coming across as preachy or without coming up with a resolution for his affairs.
When he catches fire, these tracks will have you spellbound. Add “Tribe” to the receipt of Dreamville hits. “Boca Raton” with A$AP Ferg is another standout track. Both collaborations are electric, and Bas proves his voice can’t be quelled by the loud star powers he raps next to.
“Designer” sounds like a jazz-rap instrumental straight from the blueprint of deceased producer, Nujabes. With two and a half minutes, Bas plays with the word “Designer” and inserts it into different contexts. It’s one of this album’s highlights.
He even plays with Afro-Caribbean rhythms on tracks like “Rockets” and “Sanufa.” It’s an unexpected direction that’s sure to get him some spins in the club. Not to mention, he’s more than capable of holding a few melodies.
Yet this album’s biggest setback is its pace. Too High to Riot transitioned effortlessly and kept the listener engaged with introspective revelations like on “Live For.” There was a voracious hunger in his voice as well. It was like he was tired of being denied.
Somehow, Bas’s reflections lose their stride here and there. Some cuts are drastically more inviting and replayable than others. And even though J. Cole is lauded as an A-list rapper, his production is sometimes B-tier. Cole contributes to eight out of fourteen of this albums instrumentals… and boy could they use a little more fire underneath them.
I want to see Bas be relentless like he was prior to this album. He’s much more intriguing and fun to listen to on Too High to Riot. This album shows growth but it lacks a hard-hitting, unapologetic cut to stir up the pot. Maybe we’ll get a hungrier Bas on a Revenge of The Dreamers 3, or his next LP.
- “Tribe” ft. J. Cole
- “Boca Raton” ft. A$AP Ferg
- “Fragrance” ft. Correy C
- “Rockets” ft. Lion Babe, Moe Moks, mOma+Guy
Bas’s star looms larger with every new release. His latest piece of art is a spiritual escapade of sorts—one that wrestles with the senses and longs for intangibles. There’s a methodical, disciplined approach to this album’s song arrangements. The meditative nature of these songs is soundtracked by spliced jazz, Afro-Caribbean rhythms, and ambient chord progressions. Welcome to the Dreamville offspring’s universe. Let’s see what he does next.
For now, Milky Way is a B-.