When it comes to BILLER, you get what you did not expect. When I say that I mean, before diving headfirst into his mixtape, “Death & Taxes”. I did not expect to hear twerk-loaded beats, iconic-styled production, melodic verses, catchy hooks, and an entirely listenable recording experience. The Nigerian-born rapper’s auto-tuned verses and choruses warp, double, and distort voices like fun-house mirrors. Across the 16 tracks he gets by without leaning on too many guests because these songs already sound full. The mixtape has a handful of features, but the collaborations build off of natural chemistry, not the complex web of posturing and audience cross-pollination that characterizes your average major label rap album.
“Death & Taxes”, is a nonstop groove, emphatically capitalizing on the Feltham homeboy’s versatility as songwriter, rapper and singer, and it nods to the artist’s ability to write catchy, entertaining and adventurous chart-ready material.
Tos Benson aka BILLER became inspired by music after listening to artists like Childish Gambino, Bryson Tiller, Chris Brown, 50 Cent & Drake. And these influences often show up throughout the mixtape. The recording also represents BILLER’s desire to push his trap-rap sound into unexplored territory.
Structurally, BILLER switches between the reliable verse-chorus-verse format and off-kilter structures infusing it with memorable multi-syllabic-rhymes, enhance the unwavering fun of “Death & Taxes” by adding a sense of unpredictability as one song transitions to the next.
From the onset of the mixtape, BILLER doesn’t skip a beat as he delivers twisted verses on the bass-heavy, earth-shattering introductory track, “Ground Work”. The effect is a set of mesmerizing rhymes coupled with hazy keys, and a head nodding groove.
Sonically, the album has plenty of moody and nocturnal moments. On songs such as “Saiyan” BILLER takes his sound down a slower, enveloping path, bringing to mind trappers Future and Travis Scott. The dark and haunting tracks on the mixtape seemingly has the effect of placing listeners into a dimly lit studio alongside the rapper.
While “No Leash” favors deeper introspection and substance in the lyrics, “Other Side” (Feat. DNDSEAN) continues to prioritize flow and delivery as well as melody. Proving beyond any doubt BILLER’s versatility.
But the critical ingredient in the memorability of “Death & Taxes” is how BILLER has mastered his performing skills, resulting in a dynamic sound. He is able to deliver breathy, sharp hooks on club-styled anthems, while his rhymes weave through the beats on “Colours” and “2 Face Façade” as he carefully shifts the tempos of his rapping in conjunction with razor-sharp ad-libs that soar into falsetto.
Songs such as “X’s & O’s” (Feat. Wes District) and “Anxiety” (Feat. ByDanMac), are furnished immaculately by BILLER’s captivating vocals, and the standout track “Phone” completely allows the artist to effortlessly grip the listeners’ attention.
The 16-song track list is the optimal length for BILLER to continue to deliver his characteristic bars of infectious hooks and eccentric ad-libs. The mixtape marks a high score in terms of consistency and quality, as it allows the artist to pack in the energy, sound and charisma hip-hop fans desire without saturating the mixtape with subpar, forgettable songs.
As BILLER close the recording down with two solid introspective pieces – “Get Your Mind Right” and “Tides” – you realize the mixtape is truly a victory for BILLER and the culture of British hip-hop in general.
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