sink or swim; cyhi the prynce
BY - EVAN THE ICON
The only interesting thing about Cyhi The Prynce’s persona is his proximity to his more successful peers. In almost 9 years of hearing his features on Kanye West tracks such as “So Appalled,” Cyhi has never successfully spit a verse or developed a persona that’s memorable for more than its placement next to other far more talented artists. Couple that with years of label drama, and possible Kanye drama, Cyhi’s debut and his opportunity to really strike out on his own has been long delayed.
Enter “No Dope On Sundays,” Cyhi’s self-indulgent lengthy solo first impression on the public. Sundays clocks in at 1 hr 13 min, more than enough time for Cyhi to spit a questionable punchline and tell you he sold drugs. And then spit a questionable punchline and tell you he sold drugs. And finally, spit a questionable punchline and tell you he sold drugs. Maybe an unnecessarily long outro or a bridge that doesn’t really add to the song lyrically or conceptually. The album only features 2 songs that thankfully start with a 3 on the track length indicator. It seems Cyhi just can’t admit that some of his ideas only need to last 3 minutes. Maybe he’s unsure he’ll get another chance to speak or maybe he’s just that insecure that he cannot simply edit his statements down.
Musically, Sunday’s instrumentals end up an amalgamation of leftover ideas from the Life of Pablo sessions and post-Bad-And-Boujee trap beats, neither of which fit Cyhi’s boring monotone croak of a delivery. He also doesn’t seem to be able to place a feature correctly, as most of the other artists on the album sound randomly thrown in to fill in space and break the one note nature of Cyhi’s delivery, (especially Schoolboy Q). Most of the time, he just cannot seem to find a groove that works for him. On the trap-inspired tracks such as “Movin Around” and “Dat Side” Cyhi attempts to Wale his way through a boring trap beat, using melody as a crutch for a flow that’s more subpar than he usually delivers. It’s puzzling why he felt the need to include cuts like this. They aren’t catchy enough to be played at a club, they aren’t exciting enough to be played at a personal listening session and they aren’t lyrical enough to appeal to the type of listener Cyhi should be seeking out: those who are craving “straight bars on dope beats.” Oddly enough, the only time he sounds completely in his element is when he’s on an instrumental with an oddball, experimental edge and indie artist-like song concept, as he does on the last quarter of the album with “80’s Baby” and “Free.” Having a concise topic besides “yep, used to sell drugs” and a beat interesting enough distract the listener really helps Cyhi flesh out his strengths as a writer.
As a rapper, Cyhi fails to impress the listener with a normal capacity for music listening. This man spent almost a decade hovering around the legendary GOOD Music label and he still hasn’t learned how to change his delivery to keep the listener's interest the way labelmates like Kanye, Push, and even Big Sean accomplish almost every time. He ends up an synthesis of all previously mentioned artists and sometimes also Jay Electronica. Cyhi fails to write an interesting, catchy chorus even once. His failure to engage and hook the listener becomes apparent when a guest verse becomes the most memorable part of his songs. Specifically, Pusha T steals the show spitting hard-hitting personal lines like “When I recognized what you did to your nose/ I couldn't justify what I did to my bro.” While Cyhi will sometimes deliver interesting turns of phrase such as “At 17, I was on the run with a fugitive, All he gave me was game and I kept it like it a souvenir,” he’ll most often deliver a metaphor or simile that either doesn’t fit the tone of the song or isn’t funny or interesting enough to include anyway “(My homies was crippin' so hard, all they eat is seafood).”
At the end of the day, Cyhi’s debut is typical of other rappers dropping debuts in 2017: An instrumentally interesting and occasionally adventurous album, featuring a rapper that either doesn’t care enough to be or can’t be consistently interesting on the track. Does it make it better that in Cyhi’s case, he is a “lyrical rapper” and not a “mumblerapper?” That’s on you to decide.
Evan The Icon
Cyhi The Prynce