25
(Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images for BET)

25, BY G HERBO: 25 YEARS OF TRAGEDY OR TRIUMPH???

A couple of weeks ago, G Herbo released his album titled 25 at the age of 25. For many people who have been following the Chicago drill scene, this is significant because Chicago has been dubbed as “Chiraq” due to its association with gun violence in comparison to the war in Iraq. Many innocent men, women, children, and rappers have passed due to gang activity or affiliation. For anyone who may not reside in the best areas, reaching 25 is a significant accomplishment. While G Herbo may not be the most significant artist in terms of clout, I would like to applaud him for his being one of the most notable rappers from Chicago.

Previously, G Herbo released PTSD (which I thought was very good). This time around, G Herbo is back with many significant features within the industry. Since his last release, we have endured a pandemic. But with the use of Tik Tok, there have been many artists and trends that are on the rise. G Herbo also gave birth to his second child. It looks like everything in his personal life is well. So far, I have listened to this project three times. Will this project be a tragedy? Or will G Herbo show that he is here to stay in the rap industry? This is a review of 25.

WHAT I LISTEN FOR IN PROJECTS

When listening to music, I listen for the vibe, lyrics, and production of the song, and as a listener, I expect artists to get out of their comfort zones and experiment. I will be discussing lyrics, production, features, sales, and I will give this project a rating, but, as with all art reviews, my review of 25 is based on personal opinion.

G HERBO, 25: LYRICS

To begin, the lyrics on this album are something that I think Herb takes his time to create. I think all of his work is prepared in a meticulous way. I think G Herbo really shines in wordplay and storytelling. His wordplay is fresh and exceptional. This can be seen in “I Don’t Wanna Die.” While G Herbo may not be the most melodic rapper like his Chicago collaborator Polo G, I think his wordplay can make up for his shortcomings. I think he also has a good flow to many instrumentals he chooses to rap over. I like his aggressive flow, and it can’t be imitated by many. I also like most of his choices of instrumentals. Herb knows where his craft shines the best. With the transition of sound in rap, I like how G Herbo is able to feature many melodic rappers, but he also stays true to his overall sound. However, how long will the present state of rap stay within this mix of melodic and lyrical rap? Only time will tell, but I think it is very off-kilter to think that there could be a possibility of “old-fashioned” and “lyrical” rappers going out of commission. I digress. Sonically, the lyrical material was exceptional. I like Herb’s versatility and uniqueness in flow and rhythm. We can see this on songs like “Trenches know my name,” and “I don’t wanna die.” This project expresses many themes of unity and streetlife. Some of my favorite lyrics include:

*Presented by Genius*

Word to the wise, I used to roll with older guys
So he might be bigger than me, but this b***h was oversized
We gon’ dress up for the hit ’cause that’s before his time
Like he saw a magic trick, I’m tryna blow a n***a mind- G Herbo on I Don’t Wanna Die

You can never take a killin’ back
Whole hеart was in the streets
I had to leave hеr, get my f****ng feelings back
Same spot they shot my brother, next day I’m chillin’ at (ask)
I ain’t lyin’ they was winning
‘Til we started spinnin’ back (spinnin’ back)- G Herbo on Statement

Every time you open up, they just end up hurtin’ you
Usually the worst is true, so is all my verses too
You be all in competition, that’s the Devil versus you
Hatin’ a**, Judas a** n***a, now we murkin’ you- G Herbo on Loyalty

MY FAVORITE TRACKS

  • “I Don’t Wanna Die”
  • “Whole Hearts”
  • “Cold World”

LEAST FAVORITE TRACKS

  • “Cry No More”
  • “You Can’t”

9/10

G HERBO, 25: FEATURES

This project features Polo G, Lil TJay, The Kid Laroi, Gunna, 21 Savage, Yosohn, and Rowdy Rebel. Having Polo G and Lil Tjay collaborating again was interesting. It was very enjoyable to see them collaborate. I thought Lil Tjay would appear on Polo G’s Hall of Fame, but he didn’t. I digress, but I wasn’t a big fan of Polo G or Lil Tjay on “Cry no more.” Between the two, I have heard better songs/ instrumentals from them. I think I particularly didn’t like Lil Tjay’s verse. Polo G’s hook was good. The Kid Laroi and Gunna featured on “You can’t.” That song also didn’t sit well with me. This is a very interesting combination because while both Laroi and Gunna are melodic rappers, they are diving within different genres in their discography. I think the flow of the track made the song unlikeable. I really liked how Herb manages to record his son Yosohn for the track “Cold world.” I feel like that was a very intimate moment between the two and his love for fatherhood. 21 Savage was featured on “T.O.P.” I like his flow on that track. I liked the song “Drill” featuring Rowdy Rebel. The instrumental is New York drill-oriented, but it sounds as if anyone could collaborate on that instrumental. I initially thought they recorded while Rowdy was still in jail. Overall, the features were okay. I didn’t like the songs “Cry No More” and “You Can’t.” The structure of the song didn’t mesh well between these features. I enjoyed the songs without features more than the songs with features.

7/10

G HERBO, 25: PRODUCTION

The production on 25 features the likes of Southside, Hitmaka, Turbo, etc. I think the production on this album is fitting of G Herbo and his style of rap. I think it also went into different territories with instrumentals that can be catered to the average melodic rapper. According to Who Sampled, this project does not have any samples. I found this quite interesting because the opening track, “I don’t wanna die,” features chants from children. “Stand the Rain, “No Jail Time,” “Cold World,” “Whole Hearts,” “Statement,” and “Loyalty” also sound sampled. Regardless, I think many Chicago rappers should be noteworthy for the way they utilize samples. For G Herbo, this could be seen on one of his older tracks titled “Write your name.” For me, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to think this project has samples. It is possible that Who Sampled may need to be updated. Other than that, I think much of the production stood out to me on tracks like “T.O.P,” “2 Chains,” and “Trenches Know My Name.” In short, I like that Herb used the instrumentals to the best of his ability. I respect that he tried to experiment with piano-based instrumentals.

10/10

SALES, RATING AND OVERALL REVIEW

According to Hot New Hip Hop, this album sold 49,000. This project is stated to underperform its initial projections, which were 50,000. I couldn’t see how the likes of G Herbo underperform in any way. Many artists have sold more than his initial projections. With such talent, I think G Herbo should be initiating many playlists. It is possible that G Herbo doesn’t have the same relevancy or clout as many upcoming rappers, but I don’t think that should stop him from performing well for his projects. As I mentioned earlier, it is possible that the state of rap is changing. I think there are others who struggle to reach significant sales and or relevancy. This includes artists like Ski Mask the Slump God and Dave East. Both of which are very talented, lyrically outstanding artists.

Regardless, I think the album was good. I haven’t heard any significant issues from any of Herb’s projects. Also, while something may poorly sell, that doesn’t mean that the body of work is bad. For many artists within this lyrical “bubble,” a good suggestion would be starting a trend on Tik Tok. Every artist that would consider themselves within the lyrical “bubble” is more than capable of making hits, so I don’t think their struggles would be much of an issue if they were to become an influencer. I wasn’t a fan of some of the features on 25. That didn’t significantly affect this project because there were only a few features. To summarize, 25 was a solid body of work. I liked PTSD better, but this project wasn’t poorly curated. There are definitely a few tracks that I will be putting into my playlist.

8/10

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