Chicago’s SaveMoney collective covers a lot of fertile musical ground. After a strong debut, Chance the Rapper developed his sound on the soulful Acid Rap, and continues to stretch with the live band The Social Experiment. Vic Mensa unlocked a new door when he started going over dance-inflected beats (see “Down on My Luck”) and working with producer Kaytranada. Brian Fresco works with trap, delivering his best material with soul trap honcho Tree. Towkio, meanwhile, has bounced around stylistically without necessarily finding his own niche, though his music is reliably driven by his ebullient vibes. He takes a few steps toward carving his spot on full-length debut .Wav Theory, but still needs time to develop his own perspective.
Part of that has to do with how many familiar faces and sounds show up on the tape. SaveMoney’s Chance, Vic, Kami de Chukwu, Joey Purp, and Donnie Trumpet all make appearances. Kaytranada and The Social Experiment contribute beats, not to mention that the Experiment’s Peter Cottontale acts as executive producer. On “Addicted”, Towkio focuses on fears of drug addiction and what his mom will think — recalling the same concerns Chance memorably voiced for himself on “Cocoa Butter Kisses” — and both “Heaven Only Knows” and “Oscillate” crib Fresco’s “If I said it I meant it” line. Working with friends and referencing other rappers isn’t unusual, but Towkio takes their sounds in rather than reflect his own style against theirs. He keeps Chance’s praise (“This song was already so hot, I’m actually just glad you let me rap on that”) where a subtler rapper would’ve left it on the cutting room floor.
Towkio is conscious of his place in a high-profile collective: “I get it, get it, your friends did it, they’re famous/ And you rap too, so when you gon’ make it?” he smiles on “Clean Up”. The track’s a blast sonically, but also finds Towki rhyming “baby sister” with “babysitter.” .Wav Theory is full of similarly energetic, fun tracks with middling verses. On “God in Me”, surrounded by Leather Corduroys (Kami and Purp), Towki admits he’s “like an infant or a puppy.” On highlight “Heaven Only Knows”, he says it’s his “job to make you think and make music that you feel.” He’s certainly developed the second half of that equation, but falls a bit behind on the first.
Essential Tracks: “Heaven Only Knows”, “Clean Up”, and “God in Me”