Lil Skies 'Shelby' Album Review
A Great Mixture of Emotions and High Energy
Kimetrius Foose, or more commonly known by his stage name, Lil Skies, is a 20-year-old rapper and songwriter from Pennsylvania. He released his debut album Shelby in March 2019 through his label Atlantic records. Lil Skies got his recognition in the rap game with his mixtape Life of a Dark Rose,which was released in late 2017 and peaked at number 3 on the Billboard 200 charts. I got introduced to the rapper when listening to his single “Red Roses,” which peaked at number 69 on the Billboard Hot 100.
With a face full of tattoos, a love for weed, and Lil Skies’s title of being a “SoundCloud star,” I’ll be honest and say I didn’t expect to be that into the song. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed the song and ended up liking other songs from his mixtape, like “Lust,” and “Nowadays.” Normally I’m not a fan of the “young wild rap style,” as I call it, and I prefer more lyricism, but there is something about Lil Skies that just makes me want to keep on listening.
When the album came out I listened to all of the songs and enjoyed them for the most part. You’re probably wondering why I’m reviewing an album that came out five months ago; well, the answer is it’s showed up in my favorites just last week. I’ve re-listened to each of the songs, and I figured it would be a good time to review and analyze the album track by track because I also don’t believe it got the feedback it deserved and it was instead brushed over on everyone’s timeline.
Aside from the music, my favorite thing about this album is that he dedicated the project to his mother, and I think that’s just the sweetest thing.
So without further ado, let’s start with this review.
Track 1 | 'I'
This is a great introduction to the album and Lil Skies himself. On this track, Skies is basically reflecting on past experiences that made him the person he is today. This song makes it clear to the listener that Skies has changed a lot since Life of a Dark Rose on a personal level and in his music. My one critique would be that the last part of the second verse sort of steers away from the theme of reflection and goes into his default rap lyrics of expressing how cool he is.
Track 2 | 'Bad Girls' ft Gucci Mane
This is probably one of my least favorite songs on the album. The overall sound of the song is cool, but the chorus is a bit repetitive and his voice is boring. Before hearing the song and just looking at the title, one probably will assume he’s just going to rap about his love for bad girls, but it’s completely the opposite. The chorus goes, “I like good girls, these bad girls, they not meant for me . You get one shot, don't fuck it up, turn to my enemy. I can't feel your vibe if you telling lies, that's not my energy.” I also don’t really believe that Gucci Mane’s voice really blended in with the song, but that’s just my opinion.
Track 3 | 'Breathe'
This song steers away from Lil Skies’s usual high energy hip hop vibe and is, dare I say, more R&B. Because I’m a sucker for a good R&B song, this has to be my favorite track from the project. Lil Skies really goes out of his comfort zone and is singing for the majority of the track. He actually has an amazing voice as he sings about how much he needs someone's love. In the beginning, you're definitely reeled in when he croons, "Oh I can't sleep, your love helps me breathe." The first time I heard this song was actually in a snippet from Lil Skies's Instagram some months before the release, and just from those five seconds, I knew I loved it and wanted to hear more. I loved this song so much I actually made the Genius song bio for it and added it to my "I want to fall in love" playlist.
Track 4 | 'Nowadays Pt. 2' ft Landon Cube
This song isn't like a TV sequel in the sense that you don't need to hear "Pt. 1" to understand "Pt. 2." This is because it's basically another version of "Nowadays," which is the last track of Life of a Dark Rose. The track, of course, features frequent collaborator Landon Cube, who was also featured on "Red Roses." I did enjoy this song because, like Skies and Landon's other songs together, their voices go great together as they sing and rap about the importance of loyalty and their success. Overall, this is a great song and definitely goes with Skies's high energy vibe that was very present on Life of a Dark Rose.
Track 5 | 'Flooded'
The start of "Flooded" is really dramatic and sets the tone for the boastful track. Again, like I said, I'm not a big fan of the "young wild rap style," which this is pretty much an anthem for, but with that being said, the song has a nice flow. You know how they tell you in English to show, not tell when writing? Well that is exactly what Skies does, and this is the thing that I believe separates him from his SoundCloud peers. Instead of just stating he's not to be messed with, he raps, "Smoking Clever come and try my luck." Again, it's not the greatest piece of writing, but it's still fun to hear lines like these.
Track 6 | 'Blue Strips'
"Blue Strips," is another very energetic and boastful track, and it has a very nice feel to it. One thing that this track reflects is Lil Skies's ability to make a good and catchy hook. If you listen to this a good amount of times, you will definitely be rapping, "'Cause I got blue strips I just make checks," in your head. It's a good upbeat song, and I might add it to my workout playlist later because of the high energy.
Track 7 | 'Stop the Madness' ft. Gunna
By this time in the album, I got tired of hearing the producer Based1's production tag, but that's just a little critique. Based1 produced "Flooded," "Breathe," "Blue Strips," and this track, "Stop the Madness." The track features rising Georgia rapper Gunna, and unlike Gucci Mane's collaboration, on "Bad Girls," Gunna goes perfectly with the song. I love features that don't sound like the artist's voice was just plopped in the song and their voice instead flows perfectly with the song. This might be another track that I might add to my workout playlist.
Track 8 | 'Ok 4 Now'
After "Stop the Madness," which was the median of the album, the high energy mood changes and goes back to the self-reflection mood that the album began with. Like "Breathe," this song can be categorized as a love song as he raps about his romance struggles. I lobe this song because I love to see this emotional side of Skies and an artist in general. It shows us, the listeners, that there is more to him than the bezels and smoking, but a person who one can relate to. This song is definitely my second favorite on the album. As someone who struggles with staying present, the term "Ok 4 Now" is something I need to remind myself, so I did connect with the song on that level.
Track 9 | 'When I'm Wasted'
On this track, Skies details his drug use, which he has made clear is only weed. This song has the same tone as "I," but the subject matter is different. I interpreted the lyrics, "I don't wanna take your calls when I'm wasted," as Skies doesn't want the drugs he is taking to alter his relationships. That might be a stretch, but that's how I heard the lyrics.
Track 10 | 'Mansion'
Just when I thought that I was getting into the emotional side of the 14 track album, we're brought back to the high energy mood. I'm not trying to take away from the quality of the song, but I do think in terms of the structure of the album, this should've been before "Ok 4 Now," separating the high energy songs from the emotion based ones. This song still has a nice vibe to it, and like "Blue Strips," the chorus is very catchy.
Track 11 | 'Through The Motions'
As we get to the last tracks of the album, Skies began to talk about how his life has quickly changed since fame. Like "Ok 4 Now," I took away a deeper message from this song, maybe a little too deep. We're all living life and just going through the motions trying to get to our goals in life. Again, maybe too deep, but it's still a great song and reflection of Skies's life before fame and his current struggles.
Track 12 | 'High and Lows'
While Lil Skies showed his loving and emotional side on this album, in this song, he gets more vulnerable. This may not be a song where the whole crowd goes crazy when he performs it, but Skies addresses his struggle with depression, which I'm sure many of his listeners like myself can relate to. What I love about this song is that it seems like a letter to someone. For the beginning of the song, I thought it was his mother who he named the album after, but then he raps, "Nobody was helpin' me or my mom," so I guess not. Whoever the lyrics are directed towards, I love that Skies feels comfortable enough to rap about whats going on in his life, and I hope many other rappers begin to as well.
Track 13 | 'Name in the Sand'
This song, like "Breathe," just makes me want to find that special person for the 2 minutes and 49 seconds of the song. This song touched me because I think the action of writing your name in the sand with someone else's is just the sweetest thing. The music video for this song is also amazing and well-directed. The song is truly beautiful; from the lyrics to the slow beat, it's definitely one to sing along to. My favorite lyric has to be, "This for life, no more games, feel the vibe through your pain."
Track 14 | 'No Rainy Days'
This is a great ending to this album and has a great ring to it. It really brings back the high energy that was present in the middle of the project. This is definitely another catchy chorus and something that got stuck in my head.
I think because of Lil Skies's appearance and the fact he has a "lil" in his stage name, people tend to not take him seriously in this industry, but this album surely proves all of those people wrong. In think this was a great debut album as it showcased Lil Skies' rapping and songwriting abilities. I look forward to seeing his growth in future projects and seeing him get some deserved recognition.