ALBUM REVIEW: Y.A.N.K.E.E. “VERSATILE”

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The role of heir apparent is truly a make or break position in hip hop. When I think of hip hop artists that were tagged with the – next in line – label I think of a few artists that ran with that title to successful music careers: Lloyd Banks (G-Unit), A$AP Ferg (A$AP Mob), School Boy Q (T.D.E), and let’s not forget Weezy AKA Lil Tunechi was once behind Juvenile and B.G. on the Cash Money depth chart, with the title of heir to the Cash Money throne.

It may be a lower scale but Y.A.N.K.E.E. holds that heir title, whether it’s acknowledged or not, by those who follow the movements of Charged Up Ent., with Noah-O clearly being the big homie., the 50 Cent of C.U.E. Y.A.N.K.E.E. has been labeled a protégé for his production work has now stepped from behind the boards and moved in front of the mic for his debut mixtape, Versatile.

The 15 track mixtape, hosted by DJ Infamous, is a true sampling of Y.A.N.K.E.E.’s diverse musical range. He displays a vast array of songs, all of which are produced at a level higher than your standard RVA mixtape. The production quality is the first thing that stands out on the project.

And there are some good songs on Versatile, my favorites being: “Road to Glory”, “Rule the World”, and “Dinner Plate”. On “Road to Glory”, Y.A.N.K. E.E. brings you a more personal side of his journey and for whatever it’s worth it’s the first song that I felt like he was giving his listeners a true piece of him, a connection. Now some artists will tell you that if they make hot music, their listeners don’t need that personal touch. I think that depends but it’s always nice to hear and connect with the artist you’re listening to, “Road to Glory” is a quality track, that I think will be a sleeper on the album. The other two tracks I mentioned earlier, “Rule The World” and “Dinner Plate” fall into the category of really good songs (amazing production) with less personal connection. Both songs are bangers and when performed live…it’s an experience to see.

At this point, I wouldn’t call Y.A.N.K.E.E. a true lyricist though he will surprise you from time to time. He flipped a few lines on the track, “Sun Up To Sun Down” that made me crack a smile. And I like the smooth R&B track “Special Occasion”. It’s probably the most commercial ready song on the entire project but I think that song really embodies my impression of Versatile: it’s a good song, it gets better every time I hear it but it’s not a pure – 1st time play – smash for a new artist. For example, Ne-yo could put “Special Occasion” on his album – it’s that good of a song – and it would do well but that’s not exactly what’s in store for Y.A.N.K.E.E. Versatile is a collection of quality songs but it’s missing those 2 or 3 pure smashes that would elevate the rest of the album. It’s missing that “Juicy” type smash that had to be on Ready to Die.

I think for a debut project, Versatile does exactly what it’s supposed to do, get people excited for more music. At this point, he’s still next in line to move Charged Up Ent. to the next level but now is the time for Y.A.N.K.E.E. to grind even harder, to make smash records with him in front of the mic, not behind the boards.

My favorite heir apparent story comes out of the Roc-a-fella camp and it’s truly a life lesson. Jay named Bleak as next in line – heir to the Roc Nation. And Bleak made a good debut album and a few follow-ups but he never had that pure smash. All the while, Roc-a-fella is doing what labels do…they’re loading up. And there were a few cats on the label that didn’t care that Bleak was in line (Beans and much later Dip Set). At the end of the day it was a producer turned artis,t Kanye West, that ultimately took Bleak’s spot and ran with it to superstar status. Long story short, for every Weezy, there is a Memphis Bleak, only time will tell how Y.A.N.K.E.E. will respond to being next in line at C.U.E. My gut tells me he will respond with more heat than you can imagine.
I rate Versatile 4 out of 5 mics. I look forward to seeing what is in store for Y.A.N.K.E.E and C.U.E in 2015.

Versatile is available for download at LiveMixtpes.com. To submit your music to The Cheats Movement: TheCheatsMovement@gmail.com