Album Review: Waka Flocka Flame – Flockaveli

Waka Flocka Flame – Flockaveli
Asylum Records: 2010

Oprah was right. Hip hop culture sorta glorifies gun violence and misogyny. Whether or not there is a message attached to the macabre imagery we’ve put forth over twenty-plus years of gangsta rap records, John Singleton flicks, hood novels, and Hype Williams videos, the fact remains that listeners and viewers exist who are ill equipped to process this imagery in a healthy way, that have essentially been raised on the stuff, and that have modeled their lives after the ill-fated characters they look up to. In our quest for “realness” and “self-expression” we have inadvertently created a generation that revels in the very behavior we thought we were railing against. They’re finally here, and Waka Flocka Flame is their spokesperson. Flocka is hip hop’s Beloved, the sins of the game made flesh, back to wreak havoc on the industry.

Flockaveli is more foolish and morally reprehensible perhaps than anything to come out of hip hop in 2010, a year dominated by characters like drug dealer superhero Rick Ross, mush-mouthed murderer Gucci Mane, death penalty candidate Lil Boosie, and Clifford “Three Strikes” Harris. In a scene populated by incorrigible repeat felons and their admirers, Waka Flocka has somehow managed to distinguish himself as the gooniest of all goon rappers. “Bang” features a chorus of “We in this bitch throwin’ gang signs, mang!” On “TTG (Trained to Go)”, pills and weed have got him “higher than Bobby Brown.” He takes time out of his smash single “O Let’s Do It” to let us know that he’s “got purp, got kush, got pills, got white.” Flocka has delivered seventeen tracks worth of drug dealer sloganeering almost entirely comprised of goofball adlibs and soullessly basic lyricism.

Calling this album a lyrical train wreck of epic proportions is so beside the point, though. Waka aspires to rhyme the way he does. Asked about the lyrical content of his songs, he recently quipped, “I don’t need lyrics.” Flockaveli isn’t about lyrics anymore than it’s about its purported star, who only goes solo for four of the album’s seventeen joints, bolstered otherwise by nearly thirty guest appearances. It’s dumb-dumb shit by intention. It might not even be fair to call it a rap album. This is performance art. Flocka’s a rap Gallagher. You think anyone goes to a Gallagher show for witty political commentary? Nah, they just like when he smashes shit. Waka does this in spades on Flockaveli, and it’s no mistake that hip hop’s premier fight music maestros Lex Luger, Drumma Boy, Southside, and more have laced him with the hardest shit in their arsenal.

Sonically, Flockaveli crushes. Lex Luger, of “BMF” and “MC Hammer” fame, provides most of the beats here, and his work is admittedly the reason the album goes down as smoothly as it even does. He opens the album with a streak of bangers that are every bit as massive, uncompromising, and outrageous as the dude riding shotgun. Southside and Tay Beatz smack one outta the park in “Fuck the Club Up”, whose druggy, airy synths fit the theme like a glove. These beats are the weed carrier’s answer to punk rock. These songs are the toughest things currently playing on the radio, and the production team here deserves credit. They’ve provided the perfect platform for Flocka and his goons to run a train on what’s left of hip hop’s dignity. They’ve single-handedly proven that the lyrics don’t matter if the track rattles trunks, which is pretty much the lesson of Flockaveli, maybe even of 2010 in general.

Now don’t get it twisted. This album is pretty short on redeeming qualities. It’s injurious to the public profile of hip hop and the black community at large, nay, all of mankind, for a character like Flocka to be corrupting the airwaves with this abject buffoonery. Flockaveli is the new American encyclopedia of ignorant gangsta tropes and negative black stereotypes. It’s hip hop’s proverbial chickens coming home to roost, but rather than waste any more time and energy condemning the guy and what he does, we need to figure out what makes this guy so magnetic, why this album bangs so hard in the near absence of anything resembling lyrics. If you can stand to wade through this bucket of sludge, underneath the muck and the mire, you’ll find one of the year’s greatest unintentional comedy albums.

PS. The night before I wrote this I pounded a bunch of beers and sloshed through torrential downpour, bumping the album pretty much end to end. I decided that in a weird way I like it. A lot. I hate myself for listening to this as much as I do, but it makes a kind of demented sense when, and perhaps only when, you’re irrationally and unexpectedly tipsy. That said, I can’t in good faith recommend this record to anyone with a pulse, even if I’ve made it my official drunken hype music. I couldn’t sleep at night knowing I might have coerced someone into experiencing this. I just couldn’t.

PSS. Don’t tell nobody I told you that.

★★½☆☆
2.5 out of 5

20 thoughts on “Album Review: Waka Flocka Flame – Flockaveli

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  1. WAKA WAKA WAKA WAKA WAKA WAKA WAKA
    POW POW POW POW
    A B C D E F G H I J K ? ? ? ? ? ? P!!!!!!!! O LE DOOO IIIIT
    Q R S T U V W Y X Z (yes, y x z)
    FLOOOOOOCKAA
    FLOOOCKAAA
    FLOOOOOOOOOOCKAAA

    DIS SHEET RAIT HEER IS DE SHEET!

    I joke.

    I do agree with your review, and it was a pleasure to read. I wouldn’t even consider it rap, it’s just strong hard beats with an ignorant fool saying random things over it.

    @ Thomas, “Sidenote…..Craig wrote a great review of FE’s new album….guess how many comments? This speaks volumes as we put attention to the “wack” and not acknowledge “the real?” Just a thought.”

    Agreed.

  2. There is a place for this record in the larger picture. He has a fan base and I’m sure they enjoyed downloading this. I listened to it twice (no I didn’t buy it) and I have an understanding of its appeal to the group it’s targeting. It’s not my cup of tea tho.

    We just need to give up the fight of “real” vs “fake”, “underground” vs “mainstream”. It serves no purpose to me. What’s “real” to me is another man/woman’s “fake.” Just support the artist you like at retail and spread the news of that new dope you found. Everybody in the music industry is in trouble “underground” and “mainstream.”

    Sidenote…..Craig wrote a great review of FE’s new album….guess how many comments? This speaks volumes as we put attention to the “wack” and not acknowledge “the real?” Just a thought.

    Brown Study is a 4 BTW.

  3. I agree totally with this review. I think one reason we love him is because, well, let’s face it. He is pretty hot with the dreads and all. I’m a girl and white as fucking Mt. Rushmore, but he is pretty irresistible. I don’t care if you’re a dude, the guy’s got some sort of ignorant charm. The beats, yes, the beats are excellent whilst intoxicated. Good album. @Kid Captain Coolout…I laughed out loud at that one myself.

  4. “Clifford “Three Strikes” Harris”… :D!!

  5. Sameehan Patel|

    Yeah afan dude..we really didn’t need an essay. I think everyone even on this site would have some sort of digging abilities and knowledge of the underground. Sure the 90’s were dope and all, but like JustPlans said, that shit ain’t coming back. And a majority of the people you listed were not underground at all. Nas, Biggie, Pac, the Wu, Snoop, all those guys were all mainstream back then, not underground. If you want underground cats from back then, your looking at Organized Konfusion and Kool G Rap. Those guys were the underground of the past. But thats besides the point. The actual focus is how music is becoming more of a passive thing than something that requires the persons attention.

    Then again, Flockaveli is a pretty good album for something that is devoid of intelligible lyrics. Kudos to Craig for giving the album a chance. I expected it to be filled with unintelligible mutterings paired with shitty beats.

    Atleast the beats banged…

  6. You mean to tell me nobody’s gonna give me shit for enjoying this record? Man, I was waiting for y’all to get mad! What does it take!?

    @afan
    Ain’t nothin gettin pushed outta nowhere as long as cats aren’t buying records anymore. It’s the industry that’s broken, not rap. And unless you buy every record you bump, you might be part of the problem too. We all are, to a certain extent.

    @mello
    Agreed. At no point in history has hip hop wholesale sucked. People’s ability and desire to seek out the real shit has tho lol!

  7. hate to brake it to you but the nineties aren’t coming back… and as an individual who experienced the era I can honestly say the albums that came after the millenium are at least equally good if not better in quality, variety and creativity. maybe it’s you who should get to know hip-hop a little better there’s a lot more to it than atqc & wu-tang FLOCKAVELI 4 LIFE

  8. @mello

    everyone knows the difference between the two. but there wasnt much difference between the two in the 90s.

    the fact is this. the best albums were by commercial artists.

    some of my favourite albums of all time are commercial artists or commercial albums.

    illmatic, doggystyle, ready to die, enter the wu-tang, the chronic, life after death, it takes a nation to holds us back, the low end theory, paid in full, reasonable doubt, criminal minded, straight outta compton, regulate the g-funk era, moment of truth, the score etc

    by having a doggystyle or a ready to die a commercial successful album that meant that the underground was making great music and it meant that snoop and biggie and pac and nas had to make better albums then them.

    behind every illmatic there was a AZ – doe or die or a das efx album or a black moon or brand nubian or a ditc album etc

    the fact is no matter what you say about the underground these days there not pushing the better artists out of the underground.

    let me say it so its a bit clearer.

    hip hop since day one pushes the best underground and most talented artists eventually to the main stage.

    im not saying that the underground or non commercial hip hop doesnt have some hot albums going around. mf grimm’s latest album is pretty good. but what i am saying there is not enough good or great underground artists.

    whether you listen to mf doom or mf grimm or blu or jay elctronica or d.rose or kay of the foundation or if your down with the great sa-ra or flying lotus or the whole neo-soul sound. the fact is that there were maybe a thousand artists in the 90s who released better albums then 99% of all artists between 2000-2010.

    peace

    afan

    anyone that doesnt see that the underground is so much more less active then the 90’s is lying to themselves or doesnt know hip hop.

    I bet i could name 20 great albums for everyone one great album you name released this decade.

    you name 10 great albums i name 200.

    now thats not good enough when it comes to hip hop.

  9. WAKA FLOCKA|

    I’ve already admitted it publicly… I can’t rap.

  10. Hiphop is great right now. Pop music sucks and usually has. Hiphop fans need to start recognizing the difference between the two. Country music does the same thing – it’s a huge commercial game. But fans need to simply select that real if that’s what they like. The kids first grab the commercial pop versions of Hiphop then grow and gravitate to the more classical style. Music is beautiful! I just wish Brown Study was rated a little higher than only half a record above this, lol!

  11. the industry needs a wake up call. i think the only way to get change is a full boycott of all hip hop music for 1 year. if you don’t bring back real hip hop then we dont want it anymore.

    erykah badu said it best that hip hop sucks right now.

  12. @MsTrendy

    Flocka did 37k, which you’d think would be a bust, but when you consider the fact that far more established acts that have been around for upwards of 15 years like Big Boi and the Roots only did 50k week 1, it paints a larger picture of an industry in financial decline…

  13. haha performance art sounds pretty accurate, but seriously this is what happens when you let the public school system go down the drain

  14. While I may never end up even listening to this album, I did thoroughly enjoy reading this review. Nicely Done.

  15. BOW BOW BOW BOW BOW BOW BOW BOW

  16. I hear sales didn’t go to well on the album.

  17. It was all my idea, sir.

  18. D. $cience|

    LOL @ PIMB reviewing this!!! I ain’t gonna front, though. I peeped this album out. If you can tune out ignorant buffoon rap, this album does bang in the whip at times. Other than that, I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone with an average IQ and not mentally disabled.

  19. You may as well do it.

  20. should i respond??????????? i should. but i wont.

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