For Gee Baller, his experiences cut across different climes where he learned to explore the paths of right and wrong as a young man chasing success not for himself alone but for those waiting on him.
In ‘Black Slides & White Socks’, Gee Baller combines the braggadocio that comes with hard-fought success and the relatability of a street boy for a Hip Hop album that appeals across board.
Gee Baller opens up the album with ‘Free’ feat. Octavian points listeners to some of his motivations – family in the different variants they come. “I did this shit for the family” he says over heavy baselines intermitted with electronic riffs. Even in success, he remembers his brothers in arms and demands that they are free.
In ‘Mad’ feat. Jay Bahd, Gee Baller highlights Moscow, London, Lagos, and Ghana as the cities he goes to in search of bread and a listener can spot how these cities have left some imprint on him. The heavy drill beat bears the Hip Hop identity of London street music, he alludes to Lagbaja the Nigerian talent as he switches between English and Pidgin on a single where like a Russian mobster he warns that he’s not one to be messed with.
“The only L I fit take must come with V” Eriiga raps in pidgin on the trap single ‘Teriyaki’ where they celebrate success in a single in which Gee Baller shows impressive versatility through an Atlanta trap style delivery.
Gee Baller showed his Hip Hop credentials through ‘Dayshift’ where he samples Jay Z‘s ‘The Story of OJ’ in a single where he combines elevated writing that captures his hustle delivered through a smooth Pop-rap performance.
‘Black Slides & White Socks’ is a celebration of success while remaining simple and identifying with the street through the street fashion of black slides paired with white socks. On this album. Gee Baller dropped chest-thumping lines such as in ‘Paid’ where he talked about starting his own label and chasing making money. In the same song, he talks about “making money while still in the trenches” which captures his street smartness.
In music, especially rap what an artist says and how he says it indicates his influences. On ‘Black Slides & White Socks’, Gee Baller combines Hip Hop sounds that indicate heavy western influences. He conveys his thoughts in English while switching from British-styled delivery that carries the street accent and American trap style.
In ‘I.M.O.W’, he uses Pop rap delivery over a Hip Hop beat that combines a smooth melody and strings for a feel-good single. ‘Shots’ is a personal favorite and it puts on bold display Gee Baller’s smooth delivery which I believe is his strongest quality. In the chest-thumping single where he boasts about being the closest thing to Kanye while switching between English and Pidgin. He celebrates his success not just for himself but for all those who are part of the story.
In ‘Ibiza’ feat Octavian, he uses the chosen destination as a representation of the exotic lifestyle success can afford. He switches up his vocals and thins out his voice in ‘slangin’ where he talks about the not-so-glamorous side of hustling on the street.
‘Presidential’ is a luxury song where he again celebrates going from nothing to something. “I grew up in a home with mosquitoes,” he says in the song before proceeding to tell the story of his success that now allows for a presidential lifestyle.
Gee Baller displays versatility as he is able to hold his own over a Trap, Drill, New York Hip Hop, or even an Afro-Swing record like in ‘Eyoyo Yo’ where he slows things down.
He brings West African and East African Hip Hop to the album. Kenyan veteran rapper Kaligraph Jones brings the East African flavor to ‘OG Bop’ where he exchanged bars with Gee Baller in a cypher-like style.
Kweku Smoke brings the Ghanain flavor in ‘Same Mistakes’ where Gee Baller talks about learning from past mistakes of young men who failed to make it out of the hood.
The album ends with ‘Piccasso Dreams’ which is a victory lap that celebrates his rise from nothing to something. He toasts to a success achieved by sheer grit, resilience, and courage.
Overall, ‘Black Slides & White Socks’ is a body of work that gleans from contemporary and traditional Hip Hop sounds for a balanced project that appeals to different listener bases.
While the writing and delivery showcase heavy western leanings, the beats and sonic allow for an easy listen for Hip Hop fans.
As a body of work, the album achieves topical and sonic coherence. Singles like ‘Mad’, ‘Shots’, ‘Presidential’, and ‘Same Mistake’ stand out and can resonate with different classes of listeners.
Hip Hop might not get as much appreciation as it deserves, however some rappers have continued to add some complexities to the genre which is leading to a palpable revival. Gee Baller‘s ‘Black Slides & White Socks’ is a good addition to this effort.
Songwriting, Themes, and Delivery: 1.5/2
Enjoyability and Satisfaction: 1.6/2