Ridin’ ’round shining just outside the often violent and gang-related drill music scene of Chicago is 20-year-old south side rapper Sasha Go Hard, who’s been doing just that since her debut video, “What We Do”. She told The Fader in a recent profile on Keef, “I pulled out a gun in [that] video, but now I look at it like, ‘Man, why I do that?’ It’s a lot of young people watching me. I just learn from it and be more careful with my music because I care about my fans and I want them to feel safe listening to my stuff, ’cause Chicago, it’s crazy out here.” As if to place a daisy in all the rifles, Sasha and able-tongued Il Will of the west side group M.I.C. dropped the Hip Hop Vs. Love, a mixtape dedicated to showing a softer side of the Chicago scene than what’s been in the press all year.
When the two connect, it’s great. The infectious bob-and-weave hook on “I Shine” coupled with AbsolutP’s impressive production helps make the track stand above every other love song on the album. The two have their moments of wordplay on the mixtape, with Sasha coining the insult “Bozart” (Bozo + Mozart, obviously) and Il Will delivering this zinger: “Shorty give me brain/ so she give me all her mind”.
It’s just that the anti-lyrical style of Sasha and Il Will doesn’t offer many interesting takes on the well-worn topic of young, heterosexual love. Sasha delivers laconic and strident bars, Il Will spits tempered and confident replies, and the bedroom beats play at a combination of Clams Casino and Lex Luger, but never transcend mimicry. That formula gives their stories this narcotic detachment, which, depending on your mood, can be either alluring or juvenile. Either way, the album’s emotional EQ is flat as hell, and the passion that should exist in this “soft” subject matter is not there.
Even when they try to channel Future’s galactic-gurgled autotune on “I Can Be”, it never takes off, and the get-money filler at the end of the album is just pat and lazy. Hip Hop Vs. Love crouches in the shadow of the the histrionics of 808’s and Heartbreaks and the blasted-out sizzurp ballads of Lil Wayne, but it’s a welcome side-step for Chicago hip-hop. It shows that Sasha and Il Will know what love is, but don’t know its true depths. At least, not yet.
Essential Tracks: “I Shine”, “Dreamin”