“Late Pass” was a popular phrase in the earlier days of blogging. See, the key was getting posts up quickly, and if possible, being the first to do so. So, when writers would be even slightly late on posting a song, or album, or video, it was common that the writer would request a “late pass”. Anddddd, you were just expected to be up on all the hot new joints.
Anyway – I’ve been way behind on new music and just writing in general, and I shall be requesting (and hopefully acquiring) several late passes this summer. Let’s start with NORF: The Legend of HBR by Milwaukee’s Lorde Fred33. This album was released May 1st, making me about 3 weeks behind. I’d now like to take a minute to also call out WebsterX for not letting me know this was out until… F*$KING MONDAY. Damn, Web, I thought we were boys… I feel extra stupid and late cause I’ve known about Lorde Fred33 for like 2-3 years now, and just never spent the time to fully dig into his music.
NORF: The Legend Hotboy Ronald is an album that feels centered in self-determination. That theme pops up early and often, and is perhaps best showcased on the second track, “Child Support (Need A Lick)”. Fredd33 raps, “LLC cost $130, ain’t shit to wake up early, get on the internet, craigslist, run the check,” before pointing out the large DIY video library of youtube, and free cost of tuition to youtube university. What makes the song even stronger, and more representative of the LP’s message, is the beautiful shift in the production that occurs just 30 seconds later.
After a few listens through the album, it seems that the core of the LP is a “I’m here to win, so I’m not here to play” philosophy, immersed in stories of day to day life in Milwaukee, one in which Fredd33 “grew up playing violins, around sirens and violence, not a lot of friends, at least I got fam though.”
Fredd33’s fam, the NAN Crew, comes through for him in a big way on NORF. WebsterX shines on “NBN”, managing to reference Danica Patrick, Larry Bird, and Mike Jones all in the same verse. That song also stands out because of the way in which Lorde Fredd33 melds his style to match Web a bit in his cadence-heavy, slightly singing delivery. Then at the same time, Web chooses more straight forward bars, also recognizing his own change in creative spaces. It’s a trip… The song also relays a clear message that Fred33’s bad side is not a good place to be.
NAN’s in-house producer, the incredibly talented Q The Sun, is the lone producer on 14 of the album’s 15 tracks. “Goals” is the only exception, which was co-produced by Markayla (a student in Lorde Fred33 and Q The Sun’s music program with Milwaukee Public Schools).
Fredd33’s son also is a major part of the LP – both directly and indirectly. His son serves as the battery pack for Fredd33’s sense of urgency and catalyst on many of the album cuts. He also is heard directly on “Free (Type Shit)”.
I’d be remiss if I did not mention how clever and funny this project is at times. I feel I painted almost too much of a gloomy or serious picture. There is a serious tone on much the album, but also lighter moments. “Possum Play” is one of my favorite songs, and at its core, it is a crash course on spelling Lorde Fred33’s name right (delivered with a Busta Rhymes tribute).
Hit play below.