Chicago’s music scene is in a special place right now. Drill music has seen much success, with Lil Durk, Chief Keef and Lil Reese all garnering major label deals. On another end of the spectrum in Chicago, Chance The Rapper and Rockie Fresh have catapulted into stardom via the release of quality mixtapes. With all eyes on the Chiraq, Lil Herb and Lil Bibby burst onto the scene with “Kill Shit” which even gained the attention of Toronto superstar Drake. Looking to distinguish himself as the next rapper from Chicago to make a push into the national spotlight, Lil Herb links with Don Cannon to present his new mixtape Welcome To Fazoland.
Welcome To Fazoland is a mixtape titled after Herb’s late friend Fazon who passed away. Conceptually, the project is an introduction for fans into the land of Lil Herb. For many, the everyday reality of Herb and many in Chicago may be too much to handle, as guns, gangs and the murder rate are served as frequent topics of discussion on this tape. Herb paints a vivid picture lyrically on each song, as the energy of the streets seeps out bar after bar.
Herb delivers a vicious curveball upon the release of the tape. Breaking onto the scene with “Kill Shit” alongside Lil Bibby, the viral song encompassed the Chicago drill sound to the core. While many were expecting Herb to stay in the that lane, the young MC switched it up in regards to sound on this project. He choose to embrace more of a soulful production was a great move, as his bars are coupled best on those tracks. “Flight Or Flight” is a standout on this tape, with a well chopped up sample that Herb floats over effortlessly. With that being said, Herb feasts on the drum-heavy drill beats as well on the project. “Koolin” is a ferocious beat on the mixtape fusing cult-like chanting, heavy bass and a sharp snare.
Lyrically, Herb sets himself apart from many artists in the drill scene. He speaks tales about the average day in Chiraq while relinquishing bars with vivid imagery and creativity. The rapper on the rise is at his best when delivering fierce rhyme, a prime example of such is “4 Minutes Of Hell Part 3” which is another installment of the viral series. Herbie flexes his lyrical prowess here with lines like, “My Hunger is equal to my struggle / I came from nothin’/ Grindin then I made it to something’ / The age of a youngin’ / Started hangin, bangin and hustlin’ / In a treacherous war / People dying, nobody crying / All the shit I saw, you expect me to sit on the porch?” In regards to collaborations, Lil Herb keeps it very Chicago based on the project, enlisting some of the biggest names in the scene with Lil Durk, Lil Reese, King Louie, and Lil Bibby.
The project is about an hour in duration, but the energy lyrically and production makes the project a smooth listen. Herb also delivers heartfelt songs about his family with tracks like “Mamma I’m Sorry” and “Still Fucked Up.” The mixtape may not present much material for the radio, but that doesn’t mean the tape is lacking any replay value. Overall, Herb does a solid job of taking the drill music and adding his own twist to it through his variation of soul-inspired production on the tape and lyrical approach. With most things in the midst of evolution, there will be bumps in the process and Fazoland is not exempt to this rule either. Nonetheless, the Chicago flamespitter shows great potential on the project. The future of Chi-town rap has another ambassador.—Christian Mordi