Don’t really have to talk too much about this one.
ForteBowie is one of most unique artists coming out of Atlanta right now. Singer, songwriter, rapper, producer…dude does all of them pretty well. And his latest project Vice Haus proves it. He explains the title as meaning “the project is like a house filled with things some people see as sin and others see as necessity.”
When I’d try to put some of my friends on him, a lot of them would say “he can rap, but he can’t really sing” or “he can sing, but he can’t really rap.” That’s all relative. Dude does both of them well enough, that after a while, you’ll know a ForteBowie song when you hear one. Which is something that a lot of new artists can’t say about themselves right now.
One thing that makes ForteBowie unique is that he tells a story that nobody else can, like nobody else can….which is HIS story. When you listen to all of his songs about heartbreak, you get the sense that all of them are about the same girl and after while you damn near feel like you know the girl he is talking about. When he raps about trying to come up, you feel like you was there the day he quit his job. And any dude human enough to rap about paying back Sallie Mae (and admitting to buying a car before the loan is paid off) is OK in my book.
Getting familiar with his music over the last couple of years reminds me of how I felt when I heard Kanye for the first time. Dude came from a place where he had some struggles, but not necessarily the “mama on welfare so I joined a gang and sold drugs” story that was being sold so frequently. ForteBowie comes from a similar place musically, in that he does very much have some “first world problems” but he gets kudos for articulating them in a way that makes them relatable (I know that’s not a word) to the listener, whether or not they may have it better off or worst off than he.
Another thing that ForteBowie does well is inject juuuuuust the right amount of hood shit into his songs. Songs like “Sephora’s Song” and “Gucci Mane” are prime examples of that. And when he does get on some “hood” shit he adds a context to it that makes it universal which is usually the case with most things in the world. On “M.O.B.” feat. Miloh Smith, he looks at both sides of the coin and approaches the slogan with a “which came first, the chicken or the egg” type analysis.
Emotion is something that ForteBowie is not afraid to share on the majority of his songs, if not all of them. Dude damn near broke down and cried when he performed “Nevermind” at his release party last week. At other times he’s able to channel that emotion into pop ballads like “Little League Love” where he again manages to slip in lines like “ya’ mama thinks I’m crazy, but your daddy, that’s my nigga though.”
Dude is only 22 years old, which is very encouraging because it shows that not every young cat out here is singing/rapping about “young” shit, meaning they can only talk about getting money and “taking yo’ bitch.” It also means he’s just mature enough to be able to explore and articulate what’s on the mind of the average 22 year old on songs like “Take ‘Em To Church” where he has a conversation with God about the people supposedly preaching his gospel. It also means that he is young enough to not care too too much and say “I can’t judge ’cause I ain’t God, all I know is that I’m rolling and this beat go hard” on the song “Blasphemy.”
As a producer, ForteBowie knows what he sounds good on. The production is sparse, but it has just enough layers in it to make a perfect mattress for his body of words. He loves to sample, but he doesn’t stay in one lane with it. He will sample songs because they make sense, not just because it’s old. Like when he flips Kim Burrell singing Walter Hawkins‘ “Be Grateful” on “Take Em To The Church.” And he samples what makes sense for a guy around his age. He’ll reach back, but not so far back that he’s reaching. He’ll borrow from Freddie Jackson instead of trying to flex his music history knowledge and sample Mahalia Jackson. It almost gives you hope that someday DJ’s will start playing Jodeci instead of Frankie Beverly and Maze “Before I Let Go” every time they do the “25 and over” set.
The only thing wrong with Vice Haus is also the thing that makes it dope…it’s too damn short. But, it’s probably going to be a win for him anyway because the songs on here were picked by his fans and people who already mess with his music.