Back in July 2012, I wrote a review of Orlando rapper Wes Fif's album "International Drive." I was admittedly late reviewing the mixtape, as it came out in March of that year. A few months later, in July of 2013, Wes Fif dropped his newest EP "American Beach". In keeping with the trend, a little more than five months later, here is my review. I am really late. Sorry.
In my review of "International Drive", I wrote that although I liked Wes Fif's sound and his beats were nice, his lyrical content took me by surprise. Much of "International Drive" was about hustlin' and grindin' on the streets of Orlando. Having lived in Central Florida for over 20 years, I never thought of Orlando as a place where a lot of hustlin' and grindin' goes on. After I posted a link to my review on Twitter, Wes Fif reached out:
@JordiScrubbings I appreciate the review! Good read - I have to have to you come kick it with me one day! No fantasy rap here. Lol
— Wes Fif (@WesFif) July 13, 2012
I have a lot of respect for artists who reply and engage in conversation. That's one of the awesome things about Twitter.
Shortly after I wrote my review for "International Drive", Wes Fif released "American Beach".
First, a note on the title. Wes Fif continues using Florida landmarks as titles of his work. American Beach was a prominent beach for African-Americans during the Jim Crow-segregated South. Created in 1935, the beach became a National Historic Site in 2002. I had never heard of American Beach prior to the EP, so I had a history lesson right from the start. That's a real good thing.
Here are a few thoughts on each song on "American Beach".
Track 1: Intro by Dinero Jones. Jones explains the meaning the title of the EP, giving a little history lesson and applying the past to Wes Fif's current efforts to make a name for himself in Orlando, a place known more for N'Sync and boy bands than hip-hop.
Track 2: "Forever" - Over a quick club beat, Wes Fif announces his presence with a rapid rhyme attack. Again with a Too Short-like flow, Wes Fif talks about how his crew is the best and how he gets the girls and runs his city. Standard rap braggadocio. Wes Fif also talks about his experience in the game as a veteran in the music business, even slipping in a few lines of social commentary. More on that later.
Track 3: "Get It On" - This song is Wes Fif rapping a positive ode to a woman he is looking to spend a lot of time with. This is the type of song I mentioned was missing on "International Drive". Legend has it 2Pac told Biggie to write for the women and the men will follow. "Get It On" is one of those type of songs. The beat is slow and Wes Fif rhymes directly to the woman of his affection.
Track 4: "100" - "Everything a 100". Over a slow electric beat, Wes Fif rhymes about how everything in his crew and his life is 100% real and true. Solid track.
Track 5: "Too Wrongs" - Another relationship song to the ladies. In this song, Wes Fif talks to a woman who is not his main girl, but someone he has feelings for and has been close to. As the song progresses, Wes Fif reveals both he and the lady have significant others, and they both know it's wrong.
Track 6: "Wave" - Best beat of the album. Like "100" and "Forever", another song about the grind. "Ride the wave" is a perfect fit for an EP with beach in the title.
Track 7: "Heelz" - This song is the complete opposite of "Get It On". Heelz is pure sex rhymes - albeit with a twist. "Heelz" is the first shoe fetish rap song I've ever heard. Over another slow electric beat, Wes Fif and guest singer London tell the subject of their affection "Baby keep those heels on". Could this lead to a trend of more rappers dropping fetish songs?
As I mentioned in the review of "Forever", Wes Fif has become more outspoken in his lyrical content. Since the release of "American Beach", he has continued to expand his social commentary. In August 2013, Wes Fif released a track entitled "Wake Up (F**k WorldStar)" in which he criticizes WorldStarHipHop.com, a website that posts street fights, arguments, and other videos of people acting like fools.
From his "Wake Up (F**k WorldStar)" release announcement:
It’s that time again, time for another installment of #WesFifWednesday. This week, we’re going to take a break from the cliche, stereotypical rap and get on some real shit. I present to you an original track titled “Wake Up (Fuck Worldstar)”. It’s my take on the urban community as a whole and the self hatred that’s going on at an alarming rate. I believe sites like WorldStarHipHop could have a much more positive impact on the community, instead they rather peddle demeaning filth on a daily basis (hence the subtitle).Of note, Wes Fif isn't alone in going after WorldStarHipHop. In Februrary of 2013, the Universal Zulu Nation, the founding organization of hip-hop culture, wrote a letter to WorldStarHipHop, asking the site to stop portraying hip-hop and urban culture in a negative light. In hip-hop, when the Universal Zulu Nation speaks, many listen, including Vibe, Jet, and other media claiming to represent the culture. It's great to see Wes Fif taking a similar stand.
As the year comes to a close, Wes Fif is still promoting his anti-WorldStar track and also encouraging other artists to take a stand on something.
I'm calling out my fellow rappers to diversify your message in 2014. You can drink, fuck, stunt, etc. But shit slide a message in sometimes!From the title to the content, Wes Fif has grown as an artist, even in the short time I have listened to his music. That's impressive as too many artists get stagnant. After hearing his latest content and reading what he writes on Twitter, I am definitely looking forward to new Wes Fif music in 2014, and hopefully the opportunity to see him live. Even if he doesn't like FSU.
— Wes Fif (@WesFif) December 28, 2013
Overall, "American Beach" is a good Florida summer album. It stays hot, but doesn't go too fast. As anyone who has been in Florida in the summer knows, moving too quick in the summer gets you all sweaty. And being sweaty and sticky might be alright in the bedroom when she keeps on her heels, but being sweaty is not good when you are on the streets, trying to get your grind on.