Credit: Johnny Nunez / WireImage
by Paul Attard Music What Would Meek Do?

Fivio Foreign — B.I.B.L.E.

May 16, 2022

B.I.B.L.E. is evidence that the past year’s features king is only grinding for superstardom, sanding down any Brooklyn drill edges in favor of bland studio polish.

I’m fightin’ my demons while fuckin’ this demon,” Fivio Foreign claims on the Kanye West tribute track “Through the Fire” (the song even interpolates Chaka Khan, how subtle). This turn of phrase — so simple, so efficient; a little fresh, but pure in intent — is one of the few moments of genuine wit the self-proclaimed “King of New York” presents on his debut studio album B.I.B.L.E., an acronym for an actual title so mind-numbingly stupid it’s not worth repeating here. Instead, he’s far too often playing it safe, refusing to divulge any part of his personality that might offend some minor part of the listening populace. He’s rarely funny (unlike, say, Lil Yachty on “Slime Them”), frequently po-faced (a DJ Khaled hustle grindset interlude? In 2022? Really?), and sometimes a heartless romantic with zero sex appeal (the Cerberus-styled collection of godawful love ballads that consist of “What’s My Name,” “Hello,” and “Love Songs”). He exudes next to no natural charisma, which does him no favors when compared to many of the guests he’s assembled for this behemoth of a project: next to the sly swagger of A$AP Rocky on “Confidence,” his voice barely even stands out; Polo G is rapping (more like shouting) circles around him on “Changed On Me”; hell, even fucking Blueface sounds more resolute on “Left Side” than a mopey Fivio ever could. Most of these tracks are produced by long-time collaborators Bordeaux and AyoAA — the dude who essentially added the “drill” section to “Off the Grid” after the fact — and yet, there’s little rapport between the music these two entities make and the raps Fivio provides. He’s so habitually on autopilot that he treats any 808-heavy beat like it’s the exact same, interchangeable noise.

That is until you get a track as tasteless as “City of Gods,” a semi-sequel to “Off the Grid” — spiritually, it’s more in line with the gaudy “Empire State of Mind” — which features the exact same Playboi Carti ad-libs to boot. It’s already been noted before how dreadful the whole thing was on Donda 2, but at least there it felt like an addendum, a vibe switch after hearing Ye sounding morose after a turbulent three-track trek. Here, it’s promoted to top billing. Its presence is felt. You’re really supposed to walk away from a first listen thinking “wow, Ye and Fivio killed it on that one!” Where does one even start with what’s wrong here? The inert chorus? The overblown Chainsmokers sample? The semi-digicore beat that’s too non-committal to care about? While West has the funniest line on B.I.B.L.E. by a country mile (“I’ma turn your life to a meme, let Justin LaBoy post it”), he also compares his life to Micheal Jackson (again) and airs out his personal grievances; he’s dynamic, even if his flow is a bit stiff. It’s little stuff like this that  Fivio Foreign seems utterly incapable of accomplishing; he’d rather monotonously rap about how he’s “viral,” or how some girl he likes is “viral,” or how the city is “viral.” The only thing that really defines the rapper right now is his drive: he so desperately wishes to reach the superstardom that’s just out of his reach that he’s willing to give in to any/all major-label demands to do so, sanding the edges off of the Brooklyn drill sound until it’s this blandly polished prestige product.

Published as part of Album Roundup — April 2022 | Part 1.