For fans only.
Expectation: Hip hop producer Clams Casino has been building a name for himself for several years now. Best known for his work with A$AP Rocky and Vince Staples, Clams is known for his often minimalist, heavily atmospheric production. 32 Levels marks his debut commercial project, and was promoted with singles featuring Rocky and Vince, as well as Lil B.
- Be Somebody – A$AP Rocky is an incredibly consistent MC and he sounds especially comfortable on Clams Casino beats (something about his flow reminds me of Lupe Fiasco on ‘Mural’). Lil B is no stranger to Clams production either, and it shows.
- All Nite – Vince Staples is one of the most talented young rappers out, and his angsty, aggressive delivery acts as a drastic foil to the smooth flows from the first track. I wish the song was longer, or didn’t just end abruptly, but its still pretty good.
- Witness – Now this is the Lil B I expected to hear. Its not that the song is bad, it just sounds like his part was written and recorded in about 20 minutes.
- 32 Levels – As if in direct opposition to ‘Witness’ this tracks sounds as if Lil B put time into his verses without having ever heard the beat. He flows over it well enough, but nothing about the track really clicks.
- Back To You – The weakest sung track on the album, but not awful. Just very bland.
- Blast – I really wish the album had more of this. Clams is a great producer, but this track is good enough that it really makes me feel that his features held him back.
Overall: Just not a great album. Some producers can make great albums out of features (Kaytranada, Apollo Brown, Statik Selektah) and I believe that Clams Casino has the talent to do it as well, but he needs to learn how to play to his own strengths. Clams’s eerie hip hop beats just don’t work under R&B vocals; the combination of the two simply leaves too much unfilled space, and the result feels empty. A similar problem appears in the recurring appearances from Lil B; his milquetoast vocal delivery adds practically nothing to 3/4 songs he appears on, in sharp contrast to the striking verses from Rocky and Staples. To top it all off, the track list is arranged so that the songs with rap features constitute an entire half, while the singing guests only appear on the other half, minimizing what variety the album could have had.