BabyTron is the rap hero we need, and MEGATRON continues his remarkable run.
When all hope seemed lost for scam rap, the ShittyBoyz came to the rescue. Yes, you heard that right, and it’s all true: the Ypsilanti-based trio single-handedly resuscitated the dying regional subgenre with their quick-witted, candidly ridiculous bars about rocking Crocs and Cartier Buffs at Pistons games, speeding down I-75 while faded off Turtle Pie, and selling/consuming Wocklean-Wockhardt in their free time. While members StanWill are TrDee are certainly relentless wordsmiths in their own right, much of the group’s success could and should be mainly attributed to BabyTron, their undisputed leader. He’s not to be confused with the likes Lil Baby, DaBaby, or fellow Michiganites Babyface Ray and Sada Baby (to differentiate the three, it’s helpful to remember that two are from Detroit); if anything, he probably has more punchlines on one of his mixtapes than these four have in their entire careers. He’s been building something of a little successful solo run since last year’s Luka Trončić and Bin Reaper 2, the latter of which served as a showcase for his ever-expanding skillset outside of original meme-based preconceptions (though, to be fair, he also opened and closed the project rapping over the Harry Potter and Star Wars theme music) and provided him minor artistic legitimacy in the process.
MEGATRON, his latest and sixth mixtape (named after Calvin Johnson, legendary wide receiver for the Detroit Lions) operates in a similar vein — it even has him spitting over the Jurassic Park theme this time around — and further confirms his status as one of our premier lyricists working today. “Beyond Turnt,” with its swaggering, horn-heavy production, is BabyTron in peak condition: confronting his ops at Somerset Mall, comparing his ice-cold veins to D’Angelo Russell’s celebration dance, claiming that when he caught you off guard that your “pants filled up with dog shit, look like a landfill”; he’s so damn slick with that off-key delivery of his that even when he’s getting carried away by his own brand of braggadocio (saying he’s “Asian off the Cookie,” followed immediately by a dated Jeremy Lin joke), it still sounds like a compelling bit part in this grand yarn about the ongoing activities of the Mitten’s Lower East Side. With a slew of semi-carefully selected (yet all undeniably one-dimensional) beats and a few features from D-tier rappers with lots of vowels in their names, the hour-long tape continuously flexes the 21-year-old’s burgeoning abilities without ever pushing him too far into uncharted territory; artistically speaking, this is BabyTron repeating himself over and over again, with little variation or permutation. But like a lot of niche musicians, he’s especially good at one extremely specific thing — which, in theory, makes a feature-length collection of said “thing” a relatively good idea. Change, oftentimes, is completely overrated; well, at least in this specific instance, it is. After all, the one time he does stray from his comfort zone on the pop-adjacent “MainStream Tron,” he continues to drop pure gems over melody-oriented synths (he calls himself “the Bitcoin Bandit”), making it now plainly obvious how ready he is for the rap big leagues. Long live the ShittyBoyz and BabyTron, and may they continue to bless us with their many tales of days past; they’re not the heroes we deserve, but the ones we clearly need.
Published as part of Album Roundup — March 2022 | Part 3.