Willie the Kid
The Cure

Beats: L
Lyrics: L
Originality: L

Willie the Kid has done a lot since releasing his first mixtape, The Day The Game Changed, in 2006. The DJ Drama protégé has appeared on both of his mentor’s solo albums, dozens of Gangsta Grillz mixtapes, and his own 2008 EP, Absolute Greatness. Still, the newcomer has yet to achieve much solo success. On his latest effort, The Cure, the Grand Rapids, MI rapper doesn’t deliver anything that’ll truly change the game—but he does prove that, as he prepares his forthcoming debut, The Crown Prince, there’s a place for him in it.

At just over 30 minutes, The Cure doesn’t feature any tracks over three minutes long. Most of the songs don’t sound finished, either. But Willie manages to make the most of his time. On “Do Ya Dance Girl,” he raps from the perspective of a stripper and squeezes an entire story into a one-minute window. On “Yes! Michigan,” he shouts out J Dilla and Proof as he reps “The D,” borrowing the beat from Drake’s “Fear.” In a quest to discover what the game’s been missing, he also studies past rap greats on “The Atrium.” He even tackles “Champagne Flow” by adopting a Ghostface-esque delivery that shows off his versatility on the mic.

Due to the time constraints, though, most of the concepts never fully mature to much more than mixtape fodder. The introspective “Quiet Man” sounds promising but ends up being too brief to reach it full promise. Still, there’s enough on The Cure to recognize Willie’s potential. The small doses show that he has what it takes to succeed, but still a few bars away from truly being the crown prince. —Chris Yuscavage