If Soulja Boy’s release of the 50/13 mixtape is a precursor to the Promise album, then many of his longtime fans may end up disappointed. Clocking in at 15 tracks, the tape is a smorgasbord of lazy production, uninspired lyrics, off-beat flows, and skippable tracks. It feels like he decided to make this over some holiday downtime, because it certainly sounds like it didn’t take much time and effort to produce, and he would have been better served focusing his attention on his next album.
Soulja Boy would benefit from the less-is-more approach on his tracks (and releases of his mixtapes, for that matter; he dropped this only a week after Gold On Deck). Many of the songs on 50/13, without having anything going on, have too much going on—with combinations of chants, yelling, and background noise—and begin to irritate rather than entertain. If SB could leave more room for the track to breathe and take a more subtle approach to his lyrics, he would allow the tracks the opportunity aurally welcoming. On top of that, curiously, the sound quality isn’t nearly as crisp as it should be for an artist of this status.
Not surprisingly, considering his history and recent offerings, Dre doesn’t raise the lyricism bar with 50/13. “Moving, ”featuring Agoff, features such poignant lines as, “40 million salary, just like the NBA/All white everything, like I’m in the KKK.” Later, on “Fuck Around (Buck),” the tape’s protagonist spits tales about cutting heads off, shooting people in their assholes, and hanging them by their dicks.
Luckily for Soulja Boy, an artist is not judged by one release, but by their entire catalog. Hopefully Promise will bring a more enjoyable album, in contrast to the quickly concocted content found on 50/13. If things go right, Soulja Boy still has the chance to become a Soulja Man. —Matt Wright