In rap music, the album has become a hurdle. You can count on one hand the rappers who can release a cohesive album, and have that album be good enough that fans aren’t imagining the ways in which it could have been done much better – usually more unfettered and pure to its genre and the artist’s intellect. In the increasingly difficult journey from underground to mass exposure, no time is more uncertain than when singles, mixtapes and Ep’s finally become an album. With an album you get one shot to prove you have the credibility of staying the distance, before your fan-base shifts to the next dude with a couple of radio hits on iTunes or Tidal. It is a grim and unfair reality in the modern music era.
Whit3 Boy is an 18 year old hip-hop artist from New Zealand, currently based in Australia, who flips his middle finger as he admirably challenges the album concept. His has just released his debut 10-track recording, entitled “Priority”. The album, keeps pace with the genre’s recent developments and extends some of the experimentation. Whit3 Boy raps, then sings some, and allows decent stretches of instrumental space which was mostly done in house. It’s a combination that showcases the rapper’s 360° skillset.
“Priority” is a (mostly) lighthearted, entertaining, joyful album and has some happiness even in the darker moments. It’s easy to listen to, and there are moments across this album that seriously bring a smile to my face. Whit3 Boy raps with verve and consciousness, which lends the album a sense of authenticity and performativity that can be sorely lacking from a lot of hip-hop around today. The production on this album across the board is killer. Depending on your taste in music, there are quite a number of songs in competition for the best track on “Priority”.
On my ‘best’ list, you will find tracks such as “Funké”, “Wack Rap Pt II” (ft. Kiba Walker, Lumbee Phenom), “Given” (ft. Sugna), “808’s” (ft. Cheap Saffron), “Limits” (ft. Lumbee Phenom, Elsie Lovelock), and probably my absolute favorite “Anti” (ft. Elevan). Whit3 Boy’s lyrics avoid being too cryptic and get their point across in the quickest time possible. He rattles off quotable punchlines, and many moments of contemplative clarity, as he spins countless tales of adventures and thoughts.
To understand this growing young man as an artist is to attempt to understand his methodology as a lyricist. Beneath the lyrical vignettes and references, lies an artist built on honesty and discovery. Because of the pervasiveness of his sense of being, Whit3 Boy’s moments of contemplation resonate as his strongest moments throughout this album, and can be savored in all of its glory on “Given”, “Limit” and “Anti”. Three brilliant tracks in all aspects.
In places, the album feels organic and familiar, it feels as if Whit3 Boy has pushed rap’s recognizable themes up a level. Taking ideas that used to be mere concepts and fully fleshing them out. “Priority” is a perfect introduction to Whit3 Boy for any audience, and longtime, hardcore local fans, will envy the many people worldwide who will now get to hear this young new artist for the first time.