Lil Skies Drifts Between the Fine Medium of Hip Hop and Trap Rap in Most Recent Project, Shelby
Ever since the trap rap scene starting gaining momentum, American rapper Lil Skies has been one to take the mic and deliver quick bars. Hailing from Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, Lil Skies dropped out of Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania to chase his dream of being a rapper. In early 2018, the young artist released his first album Life of a Dark Rose. Hovering over the genre of hip hop, Skies delivers a traditional trap house sound with elements of autotune and wavy beats while managing to differentiate himself with his unapologetic and narcotic lyrics. Skies’ first album received positive attention from hip hop fans as it showed that there is musical wiggle room when it comes to traditional hip hop and trap rap (at times mingled with mumble rap, alt. rap, or emo rap). In his most recent project Shelby (2019), Lil Skies continues to drift between a fine medium of the two, sometimes overflowing into one but still maintaining a balance within both subgenres.
Named after his mother, Shelby is a 14-track project that includes featured artists Gucci Mane, Landon Cube, and Gunna on the record. Throughout the album, Skies sticks to themes of starting from the bottom of the rap game and finding success, to rapping about material possessions, sex, drugs, and heartbreak. While some songs off Shelby are fun tunes that give listeners a greater insight into Skies’ life, some tracks feel like filler, lacking in both departments of lyrical aptitude and originality. However, some of these songs exist in both realms, like the track “Nowadays Pt. 2” featuring Landon Cube. Content wise, this song is similar to “Welcome to the Rodeo” off Life of a Dark Rose in the sense that it dabbles into Skies’ life now that he has gained more popularity and triumph in his career.
In “Nowadays Pt. 2,” Skies raps “Remember when I used to sit and plan it with the bros / Nowadays I’m just sellin’ out these shows.”
From looking closely to his lyrics, it seems like Lil Skies is enjoying life after success. Aside from enjoying his fame, Skies sings upon another popular theme in hip hop – alluding to the fact that he can’t trust everybody – as displayed in the song “Through the Motions.”
He raps, “They used to count me out now they wanna count me in / Now they see me out in public and be actin’ like we friends / I don’t know you, you just tryna get close to my dividends / Ran it up and got a check / Now n***** actin like my mans.”
When most rappers feel like they’ve made it in the rap game, it’s not surprising for them to talk about material possessions and their newly effervescent status. By default, Skies fails to remain humble when it comes to this part of his life. Tracks like “Flooded,” “Stop the Madness,” and “Blue Strips” comment on essentially the same subject matter. Luckily, Skies gets more intimate with listeners as he switches up the theme of boasting material goods to talking about the pain of heartbreak in the track “Ok 4 Now.”
He sings, “Your love is like a bomb, from a distance hear the sound.”
Furthermore, the track “Highs and Lows” reveals Skies as he starts to address the cons of being famous. While it’s nice to get some variety with this song as its juxtaposed in the album, it honestly feels like a low-brow monologue from the rapper. As the album comes to an end, the track “Name in the Sand” is a rather relatable track as the rapper talks about love being a drug – the only drug that lifts Skies up.
Last but not least, “No Rainy Days” concludes the album and it’s a pretty good closing track as it condones positive vibes and depicts how life is truly a journey with its ups and downs.
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