Sifting through the cultural detritus of a coming-of-age at the turn of the millennium, SBN3’s It’s Not the 90s is, evidently, a sequel to last year’s 2000 on Everything. Soul Bro has expanded on his unique brand of dexterous rapping, rapturous sing-song hooks, and early-aughts fetishizing — while also slimming-down the runtime of this project as compared to the last one. Opener “Ecko Quicksilver” is a trumpet-led anthem that bursts right out of the gate, providing a summary of 2000 on Everything, replete with lighthearted aughts references, and delivered through the filter of a braggadocio typical of modern pop-rap, if slightly skewed (“my bank fatter than season 1 Josh Peck”). The first five tracks go on to establish this set’s aesthetic, which consists of playful wordplay couched in synths and tip-toeing beats. “Hollywood Video” finds SBN3 spitting like Playboi Carti, casually expanding his interest in vocal expression akin to the experimentation of contemporaneous SoundCloud rappers; the line “I get that moment like Kodak” in video game reference-leaden track “Totodile Freestyle” might as well shout-out our man Bill K. Kapri.
“Aguilerian Preaching” marks the big shift in the set, taking the generally silly reference point of worship for Christina Aguilera to an absurdist degree, literally preaching the “good word” with utter sincerity (and deftly recalling Jim Morrison on “Horse Latitudes”). “Xtrinity” and “Rolling Letters Red” reiterate this appreciation (“Keep that Christina in your mind”), but it’s “Say La Vee” that proves the zenith of the project. This track features a looped sample of Ms. Aguilera in its instrumental, with a victorious repeated chant of “Say la vee / say la vee / say la vee” amplifying a sense of hope, as if answering the previous track’s downtrodden sentiment of “Your testament was what I knew but what I knew will bring the betterment / all these kids riddled with that Ritalin.” There’s a sense that SBN3 is alleviating childhood pain and confusion through his embrace of cultural artifacts from his youth; where 2000 on Everything’s hilarious, but often clashing, skits might have introduced a subtext of ironic detachment, the seamlessly arranged It’s Not the 90s reiterates the joy underlining both records. The final four tracks, then, constitute a victory lap — and its beats range from Disney soundtrack to Bop It samples. SBN3 redefines the old “One Man’s Trash” adage, but ever on-brand: “That shit’s not Nirvana, it’s The Simple Life.”
Published as part of What Would Meek Do? | Issue 6