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SOB x RBE Carve Out a Distinct Vocal Identity on Gangin’

on March 07, 2018, 3:19pm

The Lowdown: Vallejo rap quartet SOB x RBE (the “x” is silent) capitalize on their standout collaboration with Kendrick Lamar on the Black Panther soundtrack, the frenzied “Paramedic!”, with a second album that may as well be their first. Young, hungry, and ready to take on the world, Gangin’ is that pivotal moment where they could evolve from stars in the making to just plain stars. Or supernovas.

The Good: Despite topping off at a potentially unwieldy four members, each quarter of SOB x RBE carves out a distinct vocal identity on Gangin’. There’s hyperactive DaBoii, whose energy comes from his rasp, countered by Slimmy B, whose energy comes from his lisp. Yhung T.O.’s vocals are smoother and from deeper in his chest—thus making him the group’s de facto part-time crooner—while Lul G functions as the wild card.

Rather than bank on the trap leanings currently washing over Atlanta, they take a note from Vallejo forefather E-40 with beats that harken back to the trunk-rattling ’90s. Synthesized tin whistle and ever-fattening keys populate “Stuck Up”; the menacing piano of “On Me” starts off loud, then gets joined by distant 808 percussion. About 20 seconds in, the thump becomes crystal clear, as if the music is emitting from a Cadillac that’s slowly turning the corner.

The Bad: While not as luxurious as fellow multi-headed rap monsters Migos, SOB x RBE still find themselves preoccupied with the typical subject matter of sex, violence, and hedonism. Because they observe rather than dissect these topics, the album’s point of view isn’t exactly revolutionary.

The Verdict: The allure of Gangin’ lies not in what SOB x RBE are saying, but how they’re saying it. The throwback production and relentless energy of the group’s four MCs set them apart from their more leaned out, chilled out brethren on the opposite coast. Supernovas indeed.

Essential Tracks: “On Me”, “Stuck Up”, and “The Man Now”