[Album]: Chasin’ Greatness
Overall Grade/Rating: 8.7/10
Subject Matter: 10
Fav Songs: Ringin’ Bells, 100,000 Miles,
Least Fav Songs: Married to the Game
Spin or Skip: Spin
Beflow (@beflow1) is fresh off of his 2016 release Erase Da Kritic. His 15 track mixtape, Chasin’ Greatness, picks up from where his last project left off with the same consistency, and “will to win” premise. The Ted Talk flow that his fans have come to love is back, but with even more substance. The braggadocious content that was prevalent throughout EDK has been sidelined, and listeners get to experience a more humble and personal version of the Chi-town rapper.
On “Bitches Like You,”the second track on the mixtape, Flow drives the point home early that he’s here to put in work to be the best without all the boasting when he proclaims ” [this is] real rappin’, I ain’t swaggin’ over records.” The over eager and at times breathless delivery from EDK has been tweaked. Flow controls his energy and breath, so it doesn’t sound like he’s on a treadmill rapping his lines on every track. Flow himself admits he’s made some changes since his last project “he’s improved since the last, but that’s another statement,” on “Ringin’ Bells.”
Chasin’ Greatness opens with a very heartfelt track titled “Open Stones.” The track closes with Flow stressing the importance of being consistent when seeking to achieve goals. He compares having talent and lacking consistency to that of an NBA rookie who has all the makings of a basketball superstar, but fails to push himself and eventually falls off after five years as a professional. Whereas, players such as Kobe Bryant, and Magic Johnson made history because they continued to challenge themselves way beyond the praise and accolades.
The jewels dropped linger well after the music stops on this one. In addition to the thoughtful ending, “Open stones” is filled with lines such as “guard yo’ spirit, know the Devil testin’… everything happen for a reason, went through pain it’s a different season” that highlight Flow’s spiritual side. Flow continues to dig deep on all tracks, but “Ocean Drive Freestyle” and “Numb Freestyle” stands out from them all.
On the former, Flow shares some the most intimate parts of his life from talks about his stepdad’s struggle with alcoholism, “step-pop he off the crown, but he say he just sippin,'” to dropping out of college. It almost feels like Flow breaks down on the “Numb Freestyle” when he talks about growing up in the Robert Taylor projects.
the ideas of maintaining a positive attitude, and being persistent are passed around from track to track like players on a basketball court positioning themselves for the best shot. This theme becomes a bit numbing after getting half through the mixtape, because it feels like some of the tracks run together.
On songs like “Be Great” Flow drops the line “if you really want greatness you gotta really go chase it,” and on “Do What I want,” there’s a similar line “chase greatness that’s the purpose, shine why you nervous.” It becomes a bit monotonous when also considering the same kinds of lines appear on the only track with features, “No Pressure.”
In the midst of these topic fillers, there’s skilled word play and other words of wisdom. “Be Great” is the perfect example of this where there’s the overuse of “Chasin’ Greatness” phrasing, but there’s rhymes that hit home such as, “no one can predict the future, just take it one day at a time and don’t be makin’ excuses.”
It’s entirely up to the listener to decide whether or not the the unconstructed references to “Chasin’ Greatness” are simply fillers, or a feature that’s Flow’s way of giving back. This could be the latter because it’s easy to compare this endeavor to any motivational tape where certain phrases are repeated and repackaged throughout as a form of self-esteem therapy. Also, it could be that Flow is deliberately repackaging the same phrasing throughout his work, because he feels that his message isn’t sticking. on “100,000 Miles,” he raps “when I start to talk my dreams elaborate on substance it goes in one ear out the other.”
It’s not all about pursuing greatness, Flow also shares his concerns with regards to finding the right female companion on the road to success. “Married to the Game” is where he discusses a passionate ,but somewhat shaky relationship with a woman who just expressed she loved him “last week you said you love me, now you actin’ casual, a little modelin’… I know you into fashion too, hangin’ wit’ them fancy b****** boujie ones who sell p****, I been hip to the game you ain’t dealin’ wit’ no rookie.” On this track we witness Flow laying out his distractions, and contemplating if some of them are worth the hassle.
Flows political side also comes to light on this mixtape. On “New Day” Flow critiques the penal system, and “100,000 Miles” cuts deeper “voted for a politician and you knew they was bogus, trollin’ on the internet the s*** you be postin’.
Aside from the barrage of tracks worthy to be added to a gym playlist or the soundtrack to the next Creed movie, there’s also tracks that are just plain fun. Getting to the “So Gone Challenge” where Flow adds his two cents to one of the most popular internet challenges of 2016 is enjoyable. There’s also the Street Fighter game sound byte that pops up at various points, and the Aaliyah snippet from her single “Loose Raps” that plays at the beginning and end of certain tracks eventually leading up to Flow rapping over a whole track that samples the song.
He also gets around to sharing his second, if not first, passion on a whole song dedicated to the 2016- 2017 NBA season. Flow gets into the advantages and disadvantages of top NBA players who are household names.”Chasin It'” wraps up the mixtape with bars over an inspirational piano tune where he reminds his listeners for the last time to chase their dreams.
Flow truly blessed his listeners with Chasin’ Greatness, it’s selfless art that seems as though it was put together for the people. Whatever Flow feels works in his life that’s helping him reach his goals, he’s sharing it with his fans.