“Who do you listen to, some washed up rappers from New York?” demands the old-time gangster’s voice on “Money Bags Intro.” “Nobody drives around no more and smokes pot and listens to fucking lyrical music like that. They want to go nuts.” In many ways this one line perfectly sums up Coke Boys 4. French Montana and his Coke Boys label artists Chinx, Cheeze, and Lil Durk (as well as a slew of high-profile guests) haven’t aimed to reinvent the wheel. Instead, they strive to deliver more of the woozy, drug and money-fueled rhymes that have helped propel the Coke Boys series to popularity.
In some ways, they succeed. The tape is greatly aided by production from the likes of Harry Fraud, Cool & Dre, and Jahlil Beats, all of whom bring their best club and trap beats to the project. Creative samples, such as Cool & Dre’s reworking of Lana Del Rey’s “Videogames” on “All For You,” set the Coke Boys crew up perfectly to showcase what they’re best at. Harry Fraud’s work is impressive as well, crafting smooth, slow burning beats like on “88 Coupes,” or the “Crave You”-sampling “God Body.” With ample opportunity to make the most of a solid set of beats, it would seem that the Coke Boys are destined for success.
However, despite the strong production work, Coke Boys 4 is ultimately let down by lackluster performances from its star players. French Montana delivers raps on autopilot, waxing hazily about his lavish lifestyle in a way that feels all too familiar. While new signee Lil Durk brings some excitement to the project, other members feel as though they have little to offer. On previous Coke Boys tapes, the sheer number of artists fueled a competitive sprit that pushed all contributors to sharpen their game. On this installment, it comes across as uneven and overcrowded.
Even the high-profile guests are a mixed bag. While artists like Wiz Khalifa (“All For You”) and Meek Mill (“Intro”) deliver, others fail to make a splash. On “Paranoid (Remix)” (one of his two appearances on the mixtape), Rick Ross mumbles his way through his verse. “Women say my dick feels like it’s been dipped in gold,” he asserts, trying to marry half-hearted punch lines with the opulent lifestyle the Coke Boys work so hard to portray. Hooks are another one of the project’s problems, whether they are provided by the likes of Bad Boy CEO Diddy or Montana himself. Many of the songs, especially those that don’t rely heavily on samples, are simply not very catchy.
All of this isn’t to say Coke Boys 4 is a complete failure. With the right combination of hard-hitting production and guest features, some of the songs come together very nicely. The returns are too inconsistent, however, and a lack of innovation from French and the crew has begun to wear on the ageing Coke Boys series. The tape is definitely worth a bite for longtime fans, but new ones may not find it much to chew on.—Chris Mench