In this new age of hip-hop music the moniker or rap name have become too jarring or trendy with the man “Lil (Insert Second Name Here,” being one of the more prominent ones. Some of these artists, however, have been able to breach past the confines of judges who look beyond a title. One of these artists, Lil Tjay, has been creating some traction in the world of melodic rap/hip-hop; this is particularly due to his approach in fleshing out sequences in his story for better comprehension, opposed to some who get by on atmosphere and impactful short phrases. His new album Destined 2 Win continues the skyward up-tick he’s shown in the past, with more harrowing and dark sonic overtones that dives into the undertow of the endurance he had in life.
Lil Tjay is like many melodic hip hop artists that get lost in trying to keep their sound within the confines of a genre for categorization and business purposes. This brings out a lot of repetitive drum machines and live percussion patterns, but his sound builds upon them with these engrossing bleak overtures from more harmonization-like instruments, like piano and strings. The production keeps the music afloat by barely feeling loose from the central sonic theme, which here is an effervescent array of dark-moody overtones.
Lil Tjay fleshes out his ideas and creates beautiful scenes that contrast idealistic views of the abuse of happiness one instinctively thinks will be limitless with fame and success. And despite artists reiterating doubts, Lil Tjay takes those doubts and turns them into definitives, all the while forgetting the doubts the nature around him can create – aka The Bronx. He finds a way to portray the life around him by using his vocal performances to embody what it is like first hand. “Part of the Plan,” and “Gang Gang,” specifically bring out his best with his rapid melodic flow keeping in constant momentum with the instrumentation, as well as “Gang Gang,” except with more emotional pizzazz.
Unfortunately the emotional beats don’t always land because the wrought simpleness in the tracks that deal with themes of love. He has his analogical way of breaking the story down into these lush scenes, but sometimes the tracks feel like numbing sounds that are just there. “Calling My Phone,” featuring 6lack, for example; it passes by quickly in the beginning, never delivering beyond the simple concepts that contrast his homie to his girl to lesser quality. 6lack, however, makes due with what he is given and gives us a soft-soulful verse and underlying harmonies. It could be due to the try-hard commercial appeal he wants to have in trying to bring people to listen and see past it, but like the aforementioned track it never fully works.
There are songs like “Hood Rich,” “Nuf Said,” and “Headshot,” that do break past basic molds, lyrically, but the production has this outrageous production that builds upon itself to deliver with grandeur and elegance. “Headshot” features Polo G and Fivio Foreign in this luscious drill production that builds upon the dark-gritty New York string and piano notes more prevalent to the moody-renaissance of the underground rap scene. Unfortunately these sounds don’t always stay as consistent, as much as Lil Tjay tries to impose his unique lyrical complexions on the surface.
The repetitiveness is a bit more apparent, like with most of the artists, but the energy and willful prowess they bring to the microphone allows us to implore the kind of dynamic vocal structure he is sure to come up with. Lil Tjay has had his feet in the sand and the sand keeps him sinking as he makes his way in trying to distinguish himself from the many New York Drill rappers currently making waves/noise. Destined 2 Win, in a way, succeeds in its namesake by giving the listeners something to look forward to as Lil Tjay continues to grow as an artist.