Most of what the world has heard from the Broward County emcee GABRL, has come in rations teaser verses on rap blogs and a single track (“Lies”) that received spins on internet radio but, with his release of Here’s a Mixtape, he offers a full serving of what he’s all about.
The rapper makes his hunger immediately clear on the aggressive “Untitled”, proclaiming breathlessly, “All I ever hear is ‘When that tape gon’ drop?’/ And what I really wanna say is, ‘I’m about to take ya’ll spot!’” While this vigor for in his own talents is a continued trend throughout, GABRL’s flows never seem gratuitously abrasive. Like J. Cole circa 2008, he isn’t afraid to be melodic as he navigates toward his tonal sweet spot. “Who” is a crew love record over a Wonka tinged instrumental, with a military cadence hook where GABRL cleverly questions those who don’t share the wealth, “What good is having cake if you ain’t cutting any slices?”
Trippy beats, satisfying hooks and stellar production from 808XELiTE, Alias and fellow Floridian Tyshane, amongst others, help to transcend the project to an actual listening experience, including something that may be alien to millennials—the sounds of a cassette rewinding and stopping.
A standout moment is the track “Bet You Wish”, which highlights GABRL’s dexterity and samples the Raye song of the same name. After spitting the harrowingly accurate summary of the rap game (“In this game, you ain’t remembered unless they kill you in your prime”), the 22-year-old emcee unleashes a verbal assault over KRS One’s “Sound of Da Police”, impressive enough that it’s as if he rewound this tape to the year he was born.
Both fans of artists who blend genre lines and even true hip-hop fundamentalists alike will let this “mixtape” play straight, even in a time where we have the luxury of skipping tracks.