By Justin Cudahy, Staff Writer
Key Tracks: “Hasselhoff”, “Perfect Pint”
Many may recognize Mike Will (often stylized as “Mike WiLL Made-It”) for his signature trap beats and record productions. He’s collaborated with several artists, including Rae Sremmurd, 2 Chainz, Gucci Mane, Rihanna, Lil Wayne, Beyoncé and Miley Cyrus, as well as released several mixtapes in the past decade, including 2014’s critically accepted Ransom. Three years later, Mike WiLL Made-It is back with Ransom 2, this time with a star-studded lineup that looks great on paper and lives up to the hype… for the most part.
Think of Ransom 2 as the “All-Star Game” but for music. Each one of the 17 tracks includes at least one guest artist, whether it’s Big Sean, Lil Yachty, 21 Savage, Migos, Kendrick Lamar or one of the other 15 people who make an appearance at some point. It’s certainly overwhelming, and fans of the hip-hop genre definitely have something to celebrate here.
Since the album is more of a collection of separate songs rather than an LP with a central theme and sound, it’s tough to discuss Ransom 2 as a whole. Each song is unique in its own way, with the only thing keeping them somewhat connected is having Mike Will produce and write every track on the album. He’s responsible for creating the beat to many hit songs, including “Black Beatles” by Rae Sremmurd and “Formation” by Beyoncé, so you know he’s good at what he does. Each song on Ransom 2 will have listeners involuntarily bopping their heads at some point, which is something that can only be done by someone as talented as Will.
When it comes to the lyrical portion, however, that’s either a hit or miss on here. There are some well-made, thought out tracks on here that clearly stand out from the bunch. “Perfect Pint” is mesmerizing from beginning to end, thanks to Swae Lee, who delivers an unforgettable chorus. Gucci Mane and Kendrick Lamar lend their talents here as well, locking this track up as one of the best on the album. While not all the songs on here are as thought provoking as “Perfect Pint,” there are still some solid tracks that are worth listening to. “Hasselhoff” features Lil Yachty, someone who stays away from getting too deep in his lyrics and instead just focuses on creating good vibes for himself and listeners.
Unfortunately, Mike Will could have done a better job at trimming some parts of the album out. The 17-track LP clocks in at just over an hour, and certainly drags at points throughout. A major reason why it feels this is way is due to the track-list’s inconsistency. For example, “Gucci On My” is a great track that builds up the listener’s excitement early on in the album, but is almost immediately let down by the following track, in this case it being “Oh Hi Hater (Hiatus).” It feels out of place, and fans of the artist will also feel let down for the most part. This is a process that repeats itself a bunch of times throughout, which ruins the immersion that listeners came to expect.
While All-Star Games are an exciting thing to watch and appreciate, the event itself is often boring and almost never lives up to the hype. This is also the case here with Ransom 2. Fortunately, the positives still outweigh the negatives, making this album a treat for fans of hip-hop and rap.