By Jon Fuchs, Music Director
[Mass Appeal; 2017]
Key Tracks: “Rich Crip’n”, “FOH”, “Pots N Pans”
Cuz Lightyear doesn’t really get the recognition he deserves. His 2015 debut album, CUZ, introduced the Atlanta rapper as a likable personality with a good sense of rhythm and flow, rapping on interesting production which became the highlight of the record. The only thing that kept him from standing out from the crowd was his lyrics, which were, at times, really dry and repetitive, dying for more topics from just life as a Crip in Atlanta. His newest project, WHAT UP CUZ, is a nine-track EP that contains the same subject matter as his previous project, but improves on ways to keep the listener’s attention.
The first three tracks on WHAT UP CUZ are two-minute long bangers that are so addicting and catchy, it’s maddening. The production from SKUFL all over these tracks (and the majority of the project) is crystal clear and well done, with Cuz’s flow matching perfectly with the dark atmospheres. It wouldn’t have hurt if these openers were given an extra verse, but at the same time, his lyrics on these songs never get overly repetitive and annoying, which is always a plus.
“Recognize” is where the EP begins to change styles. Icy synths and autotuned vocals take over to create a DJ Mustard-type beat that makes for a decent club hit. Cuz’s verses sound a little awkward on this beat, but the featured verse from LA rapper G Perico is spot-on. Perico’s flow and attitude match perfectly with the instrumental, making him sound like a West Coast Danny Brown. “Always Rollin’” is probably the worst track on the EP, as Cuz tries to do his best Young Thug impression through corny bars (“This is my story, call it ‘Tales from the Crip’”). It has high-pitched, autotuned vocals and a beat that sounds like it was taken right out of Thugga’s Slime Season mixtapes.
“FOH” and “Pots N Pans”, the EP’s lead singles, are easily the two strongest tracks on WHAT UP CUZ. Metro Boomin’s dark instrumental is one of his best in a while, and Maxo Kream’s feature is as great as they always are. It’s a dark track that doesn’t take itself too seriously, throwing goofy lyrics in certain spots to create an underrated banger. “Pots N Pans” continues to be Cuz Lightyear’s strongest song. It contains an aggressive, catchy beat, an earworm hook with some excellent bars to match and an always stellar verse from ATL legend Killer Mike. It’s a track that deserves a lot more attention for being an absolute banger from start to finish, perfectly capturing what makes Atlanta rap so good.
“When I Wuz Young” is similar to the opening tracks, but with an extra minute added to it, making it feel a lot less rushed. It doesn’t serve anything particularly new, but it’s a strong track that does a good job of helping the EP flow. “Luke C Walker” closes out the EP strangely, with another autotuned banger that is undeniably catchy and fun. It doesn’t really work as a closure since it leaves the listener craving a bit more. But, it’s definitely worth blasting around the house every now and then.
It’s not always as lyrically strong or texturally consistent as it could be, but WHAT UP CUZ is a fun listen from start to finish and is worth a listen or three if you have 25 minutes to listen to some really underrated bangers. Hopefully, Cuz Lightyear gets put on a lot of radars this year with this project, especially with its sick features, credible production, and absolutely stellar flows.