A debut album is always a big deal. But for some artists, especially those who had a breakout hit before they released an album, it’s do or die. In a certain sense there’s nothing special about having a song go viral in 2018, and if you want to be a professional rapper you can’t just live off of one song any more. For Harlem rapper Sheck Wes, who had a massive hit with his 2017 single “Mo Bamba”, his debut album Mudboy is his reintroduction to the world. It’s a multifaceted look into who Sheck Wes is. His approach to songwriting is like Kurt Cobain, vacillating between nonchalant nearly mumble raps, and high energy turn up choruses and verses the album makes you want to run around and break things. Mudboy is grimy with a bounce. But there’s a truth behind it all that makes you understand why he is Mudboy. Another noteworthy point is that there are no features on this album, it’s all Sheck Wes. The production is consistently uneasy and more minimal than you would expect, but it works perfectly and sets the vibe for Sheck to showcase his talent.
“Jiggy On The Shits” is the most interesting track on the album for the simple reason that on it he tells his story, opening with “17 years old/In this country on my own/I got no ID or Passport/I’m the only livin/ John Doe”. He goes on later in the track to do something I’ve never heard before, he switches to rapping in his native Wolof. While I don’t know what he said, it’s cool to see an immigrant tell his story in his language on a major label released record. Also it’s a bop.
Other standout tracks from Mudboy are “Gmail”, “WESPN”, “Chippi Chippi” and my personal favorite “Fuck Everybody”.
Mudboy shows that Sheck Wes is here to stay.