REVIEW: Bobby Shmurda – ‘Shmurda She Wrote’ EP

Artist: Bobby Shmurda
Album: Shmurda She Wrote
Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

After a summer that sent him rising from a nobody to one of the most blogged about names in urban music, Bobby Shmurda has all the hype in the world and none of the work to back it up. Though he’s become a household name in many parts of the country, not to mention having been seen rubbing shoulders with the hip-hop elite on the strength of his breakout hit, the young man behind “Hot Nigga” was nowhere to be found on the biggest must watch lists of up-and-coming emcees released earlier in 2014. He may be on Epic Records, and the deal that made Epic his home may be worth millions, but he still has a lot to prove.

There is moment before the opening track kicks in on Bobby Shmurda’s debut EP when Shmurda can be heard saying, “The other day we were over there just shooting niggas, now them niggas want me all the way across the country. They want me in Dubai. Them niggas want me in London. Them niggas want me in motherfucking Paris.” It may sound like a bit of a stretch for someone barely in their twenties from the heart of New York City with literally one hit to their name, but in the case of Bobby Shmurda it’s probably the truth. Only a handful of artists have ever had an internet single become a worldwide sensation, and Shmurda is the latest to make the cut. He’s receiving far more attention than most people with his level of experience, and he’s trying his best to prove he’s up to the challenge of keeping his name in headlines with Shmurda She Wrote.

As soon as I saw rap headliners sharing their remixes of “Hot Nigga” this summer I knew the whole world would soon be talking about Bobby Shmurda but, I expected the New York native to have the career trajectory similar to that of Trinidad James. Whether or not that is the case remains to be seen at this point, but Shmurda She Wrote showcases just enough promise to make me think Bobby might actually have something worthwhile to offer the world if he can find a way to look beyond his own ego. Much of the material that makes up the record, including “Hot Nigga” and “Bobby Bitch,” is chock full of familiar metaphors and references to excess you could find on any mixtape currently going unnoticed on DatPiff. Shmurda adds his own flavor to the mix, of course, but if you’ve heard one twenty-something talk about shooting guns at haters as if it’s something they’ve actually done to a great extent rather than work on their blossoming rap career, then you’ve pretty much heard them all. I don’t care how many gunshot sound effects and made up terminology meant to impersonate the sound of bullets being fired you include, it’s still the same basic concept that every thirsty young rapper is currently using to build their brand.

There is one instance on Shmurda She Wrote when Bobby breaks away from talk of guns, bitches, drugs, fashion, and the like. “Wipe The Case Away,” which is one of two EP offerings that feature an appearance from Ty Real, drops the smartass street punk attitude of previous tracks in order to showcase a more polished side of Shmurda’s sound. The young man talks about corruption in law enforcement and Bobby’s ongoing efforts to make his mama proud, as well as financially secure. It’s easily the most personal and heartfelt offering on a release that is overrun with ego and bad attitudes, but it’s held back by the presence of the no-longer-trendy vocoder. I can appreciate Shmurda’s desire to sing a little and switch things up, but I cannot help thinking a solid guest appearance to deliver a clean hook would take the entire affair to a new level of quality entertainment.

It would be foolish to treat the success of Bobby Shmurda as something built primarily on the strength of his lyricism and creativity. “Hot Nigga” is not a smash because it’s the most thought-provoking effort of the year, and the current single “Bobby Bitch” certainly isn’t a high-brow listening experience. People flock to music like that created by Bobby Shmurda because it’s fun and just tough enough to make anyone feel like a complete badass when it blasts through their headphones. Shmurda She Wrote does a fine job of capturing the youthful, fuck shit up and never pay any mind to people you don’t know through blood or friendship mood set by the record’s lead singles. That said, it’s all built on concepts we’ve heard countless times in the past and beats that, while fun, could be ridden by almost anyone in hip-hop without much trouble. Aside from the closing track, there’s really nothing to Shmurda She Wrote that tells us about Bobby Shmurda the artist. It’s largely surface level nonsense delivered over beats that will surely be recycled by far more talented artists in the months/years to come.

Bobby Shmurda is not the rapper music needs nor the one it deserves. He’s a flash in the pan talent who lucked his way into a contract with a major label that insanely overestimates the shelf life of a viral sensation. Shmurda She Wrote is an admirable effort at developing a stronger presence in the world of rap that features great production and a few scattered moments of brilliance, but overall Shmurda struggles to find a voice or perspective we haven’t heard numerous times before from countless other artists. If he had more time to develop his sound and style before pushing content to the world I believe there would be a lot of hope for the longevity of Bobby’s career in music. As it stands however, he’s got a major label making big investments in his work and expecting even larger returns. He’s doesn’t have time to fail, and as a result he doesn’t really have time to grow as an artist either. He’s not ready to be competing at the Billboard level, but now that the ink has dried and debt owed to his label has been accrued, Bobby is going to have to hope he creates another “Hot Nigga” before the people controlling his career recognize he is, at best, a disposable internet rap sensation.

SCORE: 5/10
Written by James Shotwell

James Shotwell
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