There’s plenty in Pretty Summer Playlist to interest listeners, but it still feels like a casual stop-off on the way to a future, career-defining project.
Saweetie has been an artist on the verge for the last couple of years, having sprung up rather suddenly back in 2017 with viral single “ICY GRL” (a SoundCloud success with an accompanying video that had the rapper casually performing for the camera, lavishly dressed but in the comfort of her apartment), which would become something of a mission statement, informing much of the rapper’s output and brand ever since. (Icyness is her lodestone.) Saweetie’s videos have maintained the same faux-accessible presentation for the clips supporting her two most recent EPs and a few singles. She’s probably at least a little bit of an industry plant; her releases and promotion have been cannily timed, her music and video work born an undoubtedly professional-grade sheen right from the start, and she happens to count Gabrielle Union, Zaytoven, and M.C. Hammer as relatives. Regardless, Saweetie has proven herself to be a dependably vibrant singles artist — last Summer’s enticingly snappy “Tap In” confirmed this, as did the much-memed Doja Cat collab “Best Friend” from January. Both these songs seemingly were meant as lead-ins to her upcoming first full-length project, Pretty Bitch Music. But the substantial gap in time between these drops suggests that Saweetie and her label aren’t immune to the near-ubiquitous, pandemic-induced skittishness gripping the industry. And so, preempting said album, we get a new EP: Pretty Summer Playlist: Season 1.
As suggested by its instructive title, this EP is being double-billed as a playlist, a marketing move easy to be skeptical of, but maybe appropriate insofar as there is a definite concept attached to the choice here: Pretty Summer Playlist: Season 1 positions Saweetie as curator and recurring feature (she’s only credited as lead artist on two of seven tracks) to an assemblage of rappers and singers who, in her words, “are up next.” Intended as a yearly tradition, this first season Playlist puts Drakeo the Ruler, Lourdiz, Kendra jae, Bbyafricka, and Loui at center stage. (The latter two offer-up their viral singles — “Baby Mama Coochie” and “Talkin’ Bout,” respectively — for remixing.) Pretty Summer Playlist: Season 1 is a good-natured project, yet these collaborations aren’t especially remarkable, at least outside the way in which Saweetie is able to match each artist’s style, with one exception: Drakeo’s collab with the host on “Risky,” probably the L.A. rapper’s most high profile guest appearance following a tumultuous past few years of being in-and-out of prison whilst music media became increasingly fixated on his output. It’s a savvy cosign on Saweetie’s part, and one she earns, confidently going up against Drakeo’s unusual, grumbly delivery and arhythmic flow and finding a nice parallel in it to her own, more classical stylings (something Drake was unable to do in his appearance on Drakeo’s own recent The Truth Hurts). “Risky” has the makings of a summertime hit with its tough, indulgent lyrics and aggressively thudding, bass-centric beat. That song aside, though, it would be surprising if the other tracks here caught on in a similar manner (Saweetie’s two solo cuts included), all being mostly satisfying, but somewhat perfunctory pop endeavors. There’s enough on Pretty Summer Playlist: Season 1 to accomplish the stated goal of getting listeners interested in performers on the rise, and yet, for Saweetie — still something of a performer on the rise herself — it’s another stop-off along the way to a career-defining project.
Published as part of Album Roundup — April 2021 | Part 3.