Ski Mask the Slump God is one of the most naturally talented rappers in the Soundcloud scene. His Busta Rhymes-inspired flow seems to trip over itself, spilling over with abstracted lyricism about sex, drugs, and children’s television shows. Stokeley, the second album he’s dropped this year, has, however, come at an admittedly strange time in his career. If his ascent to relative fame indebted to Cole Bennett’s videos or his XXL Freshmen tap wasn’t enough, set those against the sudden death of former writing partner XXXTentacion. Those feelings, clashing with his usual lighthearted stoner aesthetic, seem to inform the stylistic mishmash of Stokeley. First cut “So High” sounds like Ski Mask finally threw his lot into the Who’s the Next Kid Cudi Debate, with his moaning vocal sprawled out over a twangy guitar arpeggio and filtered through spacey reverb. Reconcile that, though, with what directly follows: “Nuketown,” a banger that finds Ski — and Juice WRLD, of all rappers — screaming, unhinged, on the chorus, practically tearing into verses, as his typically silly ad lib (“water!”) feels out of place after all the aggression.
“Foot Fungus” features Ski swaggering over a minimalist beat, and copping Valee’s flow for a second, just to flex; “Unbothered” finds Ski making a collage out of verses and ad libs over a silly beat; and on “Faucet Failure,” Ski morphs his vocal inflection in different ways with every bar. The weak points here do have a tendency to stick-out just because of the variety; “Save Me Part 2” the definite lowest point, finds Ski unsuccessfully trying to rescue a Halsey-sounding radio duet from utter banality. Ski also attempts singing again on the sensitive “U and I,” a seeming ode to X (“No choosin’ sides / It’s ride or die”) that’s carried off with a simplicity, and a sincerity, that heightens the sentiment. Yet no other song feels as distinctly Slump God as “Get Geeked,” which also provides a good summation of the album as a whole: “Get geeked / Get geeked / Get geeked” just repeats and repeats until Ski stumbles, as if coping with some profound absurdity he can no longer communicate; he then takes the flub and transforms it into the next verse, as if nothing happened.
Published as part of What Would Meek Do? | Issue 5