Weight of the World finds Maxo Kream once again improving his sound, carrying through his evolving maturity with ever-present swagger.
Lately, Maxo Kream has been feeling the Weight Of The World on his shoulders. The Houston rapper’s voice sounds wearied and pained on the opener to his third studio album, opening with the same mantra that prefaced his excellent second (“Carried by 6 before I’m judged by 12”) before listing off his burdening troubles over the track’s somber beat: the death of his brother, his father’s recidivism, his cousin’s suicide, a friend’s million-dollar bond, and now his grandmother’s recent hospitalization due to COVID. For anyone else, these familial afflictions and personal anxieties would be exorbitant; for Maxo, they serve as his biggest inspiration, a reminder of why he continues doing what he does and at the level of proficiency he maintains. The next song, the playful “11:59” — which samples The Ruffin Brothers’ “Your Love Was Worth Waiting For,” last heard here — returns to his stylistic and lyrical comfort zone, helping recalibrate the record’s overall mood to be a little more lighthearted. This recurring tonal dichotomy between vulnerable reverent and bombastic arrogance fuels “THEY SAY,” an argumentative diptych that explores the tensions of his self-perception: Maxo defends himself from accusations he believes his naysayers would level at him, including that he “put Playboi Carti on and then that n***a surpassed him.” (To be fair, it does sound like a fairly accurate statement.)
The only time where Maxo’s aggrandizement overstates itself here is on “BIG PERSONA,” where the sentiment is taken to dizzying heights that are indeed energetic, yet fails to leave much of an impact. Produced by Tyler, the Creator (who also shouts out the chorus), it features plenty of loud, brassy instrumentation (this might as well be titled “LEMONHEAD, PT. 2”) and a repetitive high-pitched arpeggio progression at the start; it’s a complete sonic outlier whose inclusion feels like a miscalculated attempt to please critical naysayers. Besides, the album’s best cuts are ones where Maxo keeps things lowkey, the tunes that don’t feel burdened by artificial collaborations. His biggest flaw has always been getting subpar verses from big-name guests, especially ones he shares a regional connection with: Travis Scott and Megan Thee Stallion are both unenergetic on Brandon Banks, while Don Toliver phones it in this time around. Although there’s also his delusions of grandeur, like J. Cole whenever he tries to keep it “humble” or “real.” He’s often optimistic, even outright hopeful on these tracks — like on “GREENER KNOTS,” where he envisions a prosperous future for his son — one divorced from the systemic violence he himself was raised around — and expresses himself thusly. They’re simple, even unflashy compositions to most trained ears; but they’re genuinely heartfelt in their presentation and delivery, a mature characteristic that’s exceedingly rare within the commercial echelon Maxo currently inhabits. But this shouldn’t be surprising, as Maxo Kream’s an exceedingly rare type of MC: one who’s continued to develop and improve his abilities from project to project, one who hasn’t grown complacent with his already high-performing abilities. In that sense, the Weight Of The World could be interpreted as the burden of high expectation, a load Maxo proudly carries, once again, with great ease.
Published as part of Album Roundup — October 2021 | Part 4.