Words by Patrick M.
What is the upper limit for this guy? That’s what I found myself asking after I heard Tabi Bonney’s “The Pocket,” for the first time, off DJ Trackstar’s BBVI mixtape. The production was super-tight, and Tabi showed enough lyrical virtuosity on the single to merit my scoping out both him and his debut album “A Fly Guy’s Theme.” I came into the album hoping not for a Lupe or Kanye type breakout, but at least another rapper who could get his album into my summer ’07 rotation
Turns out Tabi is a D.C. local (not a huge hip-hop market,) a biology graduate of Florida A&M who is following the Jay-z track of being a hip-hop entity rather than just an MC; he already has his own clothing line! Evidently he has been in the game for a while (who hasn’t?) and according to his wikipedia entry, he compares his rapping to style to that of an old school Q-Tip.
Now while I did like A Fly Guy’s Theme, I don’t think it quite measures up to Low End Theory. Part of the problem with the album is that the first song (the single “The Pocket,”) outshines almost every other track. The production isn’t the problem; in fact I really liked the diversity on this album. It had some Kanye-esque stringy beats, as well as few crunkish back drops. Bonney’s rapping wavers on the other hand, moving from good to mediocre and back again.
For example, in “The Pocket,” he throws in some pretty tight lines that are accentuated by his sing-song flow.
“My Mom’s give me lectures/I been out of school for like ten semesters
I’ve got my diplomas to fall back ona/soon as you turn around I’m right up onya
If you aint got the heart/you aint an organ donor.
If She’s got a level head I’m right up on her.”
Somewhat tight right? But the next few tracks don’t show much from Tabi other than rhyming “big chain,” with “four finger-ring.” The simplicity of the rhymes is enhanced by the fact Bonney rhymes phrases and leaves gaps in his speech rather than flowing consistently. Still since the production is good, and you can bop your head to the beats in the breaks. Also Tabi’s unique voice makes it easier to rap along with him even if his rhyming isn’t technically impressive.
Plus the album picks up over the second half. Tracks like “Escalator,” “You,” and “Top,” show much better rapping from Bonney, who actually flows on these songs, and provide more worthy back-up for the lead single. It’s songs like these that show Bonney may have a place in the rap game moving forward. Overall the album is a good debut that hints at something more. Now we’ll just have to see if he can run with it, maybe take some time off that clothing line and work on polishing his flow to release a proper full length album of fire.
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