Boy Barrentino – Battle With Myself – Album Review
“What’s Good,” asks Boy Barrentino? Well this record right here homie, ain’t it?. #Yessir
Not too much more you can ever ask for in a listening experience than to immediately feel like you’re catching the vibe – and straight off the drop, from the moment that “What’s Good” starts up, you know you’re on solid ground & made a smart choice by investing your time into this album by Boy Barrentino. We’re talkin’ swagger, style, skill – all that – and it hits ya instantly as “What’s Good” begins…from his performance to the production on the cut & the uniqueness of the music supporting him, everything you wanna hear is in the place you wanna find it right as Battle With Myself sparks to life & gets movin.’ Which it WILL – trust me…this record moves quickly through its nine tracks – “What’s Good” is actually one of the longer tracks on the album at 3:03, but you’ll be surprised by just how much entertainment that BB can pack into the lineup for ya. Just about everything you can think of is immediately going right for Barrentino as “What’s Good” kicks into gear…this guy raps with blazing speed and true precision – it’s a flawless first cut that should have no problem pulling the masses in to listen up closely. There’s always something to be said for an artist that’s genuinely feeling the vibe themselves – it translates straight on over to us as listeners, and that’s exactly what you’ll find in the magic of “What’s Good” and why it works out so strongly for the hero of this story. Sometimes it’s all about finding that right beat or the right inspiration…whatever the main ingredient is, our Boy has found it completely on the opening cut from his second record, and the enticing vibe & immaculate skills radiate from the lefts to the rights.
While I think it’s somewhat fair to say that “Amen” doesn’t quite hit the same heights that the hooks of “What’s Good” provides at the very beginning of Battle With Myself, we’re not talking anything like major nautical miles away – it still has hooks and energy that work for sure – it just hits different. LNB makes the first of three guest-star appearances on the album and has no problem holding her own on the bars of “Amen” – if anything it’s the main hooks that don’t quite add as much to the track as our Boy might assume. Like I said…they work…I’m not arguing against that…I suppose it’s more of a case of something along the lines of the chorus hooks being real close to stuff we’ve heard throughout the history of Rap & not quite tapping into what makes Barrentino unique as much as the surrounding cuts do. Y’all gotta understand…if everything I heard sounded as fresh as what you’ll hear in the bars around the 1:45 mark on “Amen,” you’d never hear me complaining whatsoever – because that’s inspired, straight up. It’s tough when you can hear a few things like the mix & production not come out quite as balanced & impactful as the opening track did…or any spot in the lineup of an album where one track significantly outweighs the song to follow it…we’ve all heard & experienced that before – it happens. The results end up speaking for themselves…we’re all likely to comment on it favorably still…as in, “Amen” is still a quality cut – but it’s just lacking a bit of that spark & energy that made “What’s Good” so instantly & undeniably appealing – make sense? A record’s gotta come with a whole lot of scrutiny and objectivity in the process…not every track we’re going to write is going to outperform the one we wrote right before…but in the context of laying out the set-list of an album or a show live from the stage, it’s important to know where the energy rises and falls, be aware of it, and combat that as best as you can. “Amen” works…but surrounded by “What’s Good” and “Don’t Tell Me” right afterwards…I mean…it’s just a case of always outnumbered, always outgunned here; it’s a good track, not a great one.
“Don’t Tell Me” would be a track I’d be looking at putting out there as a single based on the immediate interest it generates. Talk about leaving us wanting more! “Don’t Tell Me” is a tight 2:16 – the shortest track on the record…and I ain’t gonna lie to ya, I’d have readily taken twice the length of this track or more & definitely never felt like I ever got tired of it. He’s borrowing a bit from the style/vibe you’d find in something like Da Baby, which makes perfect sense considering when this album was originally put out there online – but there’s no denying that Da Boy here hits on something that totally works in his favor as well. At the end of the day, Battle With Myself came out back in 2021…but when you consider the fact he’s still out there promoting this album and making sure we’ve all heard it in every corner of the map – well…I say there’s no harm in busting out another video and getting this cut out there as a single. “R.I.P.” ends up being the track that got the honors in that regard as you’ll see later on in this review below…but if you’re asking me…and it seems like someone out there did…”Don’t Tell Me” would probably make for one of the strongest gateways into this album for the majority of listeners out there. It’s always interesting to me which cuts get selected as singles…from my perspective, most artists & bands are so damn close to the material it becomes extremely tough for them to remain objective and hear a record how we’d hear it on the other side of the speakers – and even when they do, they’re still just as apt to select their own favorites for whatever reason that they personally feel the connection to’em. To me, there’s almost no comparison to be made…”What’s Good” is such a killer track one that it could probably compete…but I think at the end of the day, I’d still be going with “Don’t Tell Me” to be that track to bring the people in to listen. Boy Barrentino’s probably already hard at work on his third record and writing new cuts by now I’m sure…but in hindsight, this was the most universally accessible cut on Battle With Myself, and guaranteed to impress listeners with its genuine mix of substance & style.
There is…hmm…how do I say this without offending anyone too much with a dose of honesty? Let’s put it this way – sometimes even two cooks in the kitchen can be one too many. I’m not saying that these tracks with guest-stars coming out to support Barrentino don’t generate their own interest – they do…I suppose what I am saying for a certain fact though, is that BB seems to thrive twice as hard when he’s flying solo. I felt the record slightly dip a bit earlier on with “Amen” and I felt it again with “Worth It” – and the evidence to support what I’m saying, is the audible fact that Boy goes on to surge into his best straight afterwards each time – you hear what I’m talking about? “Late Night Ride” would be another one of the album’s strongest cuts for example…much like how I felt about “Don’t Tell Me” earlier on in the lineup. So for me personally, I’d take twice as much of “Don’t Tell Me” and half of “Worth It,” which is the longest track on the record at 3:43…but I never expect everyone out there to necessarily feel the same type of way that I do. Chances are, the sentiment of “Worth It” will be enough to get at least a few of the ladies & lovers out there onboard – and if you dig it, then right on – high-fives and fist bumps all around from me…I ain’t here to fight anyone on what connects – I’m only here to battle indifference. I don’t expect that BB or his guest-star Cortez Mckinnon are going to encounter anyone out there feeling like “Worth It” isn’t “Worth It” – it’s still a decent cut, it’s just not going to be the cut that ends up stealing the show. In terms of what songs on this album are relatable, “Worth It” might actually have the advantage over many of the rest in that respect…it’s all about valuing our time in the relationships we have with those special someones we meet in this life…it’s probably a sweeter song than most folks would expect to find on a Rap record, but to be fair, a track like this is much more of an R&B/Pop hybrid.
Length can be a factor sometimes…and it’s always good to be conscious of the environments where you thrive the hardest. When it comes to this particular record…I’m of the mind that what very well could be universally agreed upon as the album’s two strongest or most addictive tracks, they also happen to be the shortest on the timeline as well. “Late Night Ride” is one of’em – chances are, BB is gonna have you at hello with the way this track snaps into gear and draws you in so quickly. Some tracks genuinely speak for themselves, and I’d reckon this is one of’em…I could cite a whole bunch of reasons as to why I personally think it’s great and what I feel works flawlessly within it – but truthfully, you’re all gonna hear this track very much the same as I did – this is what you call single-worthy sound y’all. While it’s fair to say that as the album plays on, you’ll find the seriousness of the atmosphere gets heavier & heavier – if you’re really paying attention, you’ll know that Barrentino’s had plenty of thought-provoking things to say the entire time – they just become more noticeable as a result of the sonic elements shifting towards the end of Battle With Myself is all. “Late Night Ride” is a perfect example of finding that bridge in between making serious points and insightful comments, while still giving the people out there a track they’re not going to be able to resist turning UP where a cut like this belongs. This is that anthem you want as your soundtrack as you’re rollin’ out on the highway after dark, considering your own thoughts as you speed down the road towards whatever it is the future brings, and away from the past that held you back, you feel me? It’s a stunning song from start to finish, and to me, undeniably one of BB’s best.
“Luv Is A Tragedy” has the right ideas…and this is one of those spots where I’d challenge Boy Barrentino to raise the stakes and challenge himself even more on that next record to follow. Listen to the verses, then listen to the hooks…there’s a difference between’em, and it’s in the confidence applied to both. Boy knows full well that he’s got bars stronger than steel – and we know that, because we can hear it, 100%. When it comes to the hooks, he’s a little less confident in that department…and while I wouldn’t say he’s necessarily pulling punches – I do think he could hit’em harder too. The best advice I’ve got for the man is, if you write the part, and you’re in the booth, then you’ve already committed to it…so whether or not you really feel like the singing is the strongest part of what you create, the energy should make US believe that YOU believe it is, you feel me? As in…we can hear Barrentino raps with real purpose and intent…and if those key ingredients end up being missing or slightly wide of the mark in comparison to the rest, it’s something we’ll notice on our end as listeners – “Luv Is A Tragedy” has that. So what we end up with, is a track that’s arguably less balanced than the rest or a little uneven based on everything that I’ve outlined…and sure, that’s gonna happen at times, especially this early on into Boy’s career. That being said…there are times where it’s completely worth it to go back over something again, sharpen the corners & smooth things out – and this would likely be one of those times. I’d reckon that “Luv Is A Tragedy” would have ended up as one of the record’s strongest cuts without question with the right performance to go with it. Verse-wise, Boy’s crushin’ it just as hard as we’ve come to know & love from the guy…now it’s all about believing in the fact that he could be equally effective when he’s singing – which I’m fully convinced that he could be…dude’s got all the right skills, now it’s about applying’em. The rhythm & flow of the main hook has the right design for sure…the melody is nearly there too – all he needs to do is bring the focus of his bars to the main hooks & Barrentino’s got everything locked down.
Being the second record into his career as a professional, sure, there’s still room for him to grow and evolve in his craft & what he does…which is a good thing, obviously. Lest we forget, every Boy grows up at some point – he’ll be Man Barrentino in no time. I’m kidding of course – but I’m also still making a larger point on the evolution of his music too; he should be proud of what he’s already achieving on a record like this and tracks that run as deep as “R.I.P.” – but I also feel like Boy’s best is still yet to come. As to what would make this particular cut the single from the record…I suppose I could make an argument for it, but keep in mind – I’m in promotions…that’s kind of what I do when I’m not kickin’ it straight ahead here in the reviews I write. Here on these pages of ours, I just call it like I hear it. Would I have chosen a different cut as the one track from the record that ended up with video support? You bet I would have…but it’s all about what you wanna put out there and how you wanna rep yourself too if you’re only gonna take one shot at it per record. “R.I.P.” is a good track, and clearly a meaningful one as well…it’s definitely on the serious side of BB’s sound – in terms of theme, lyricism, his own performance, that’s generally what makes this track memorable more-so than any particular hook or part of the music – make sense? From what I’ve read about Boy along the way in listening over this past week or so, the dude grew up hard in a place that’s been dubbed “Rietnam” – so that alone should tell ya something, and I’d imagine there’s no doubt that the influence of his hometown of Reform likely plays a significant role in how a song like this gets crafted into existence. I’ll put it to ya this way…for as delicate as it is, it’s a much heavier cut on an emotional level than you’ll typically find in a single put out & meant to draw the people in to listen…doesn’t make it a bad cut whatsoever, just completely anti-typical and there can still be multiple advantages in going that route. Would I have chosen something like “Late Night Ride,” “Don’t Tell Me,” or “What’s Good” as THE cut to get my video on with? Absolutely – but I’m not him. As far as what he set out to achieve with his career and his music…I get where he’s coming from & why he would have selected this particular cut, and the video itself worked out extremely well on a visual level.
Where you will find major progression on this record is the distance from where it starts thematically to where it’ll end up by the end…everything’s getting darker without question…which may or may not be something Barrentino wants to consider in the future. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with taking listeners on a journey in that regard, part of me would also wonder how many people that were turning up “What’s Good” at the very start are still with us and just as passionate about what they hear towards the end of Battle With Myself. I mean…it’s kind of all right there and implied in the title – we SHOULD be aware that this lineup is likely going to flex different gears on an evocative & thought-provoking level, which it does. Still…it’s hard to say how the average everyday listener is going to absorb this lineup as it plays on & becomes seriously serious by the time everything reaches the end & final three/four cuts on the album. “When I Die” spells out much of what he’s been through to become the artist that he is today…and as I’ve been alluding to – yep, a lot of it is extremely gritty stuff. Highly relatable if you’ve ever spent a ton of time with your own thoughts and trying to sort’em all out, which I’d assume many of you have – and if you’ve ever struggled with depression, drugs, or alcohol – you’ll feel this track that much more than the rest for sure. I really dig the sample/hook he’s put into this cut…not sure if that’s his own voice twisted up with effects, but whatever it is, it IS highly effective. BB has put the work into spitting his truth as straight-ahead, unfiltered, raw and real – “none of it’s watered down,” as he’ll tell ya himself – and the results of his efforts create another seemingly low-key atmosphere and vibe that hits majorly hard when you dig right into the many complex layers of emotions that create a track like this. A bit on the Ye side of sound by the time it’s all over & the way those last bars hit with the filtered vocal effects…but I can’t imagine a comparison like that is ever going to be a bad thing for a rapper making his way out there. Boy Barrentino does his own thing for the most part & tracks like “When I Die” prove it.
“Dancing With The Devil” is the third collaborative cut on the record and final track of Battle With Myself…and probably the track I felt worked out best for Boy Barrentino when he hasn’t been flying solo. Backed up by Tendoe Double K – they both put in a solid set of bars, and Boy’s got some of his strongest hooks in the mix here for ya as well, in addition to the music itself being some of the best you’ll hear in the entire lineup too. Lots working in their favor here as they finish it all off on a cut that they should be proud of – it might not necessarily be the most accessible of the bunch, but it IS a strong track that speaks volumes on behalf of how far we’ve traveled from “What’s Good” to get to the end. As far as the collaborations on this record go, I feel like each of the three examples all have something working in their favor – but in terms of the balance of strengths you wanna find, “Dancing With The Devil” is the cut that finds this team of two rocking the strongest. It does still follow the trend of the heavier weight that creeps into the second half of this record much more than you’ll find at the beginning – but this is a stellar example of how to go that route and work in hooks that are gonna make a majorly memorable impact on the people listening out there. Tons of personality in this last cut, meaningful lyricism, committed performance, and a wild beat & hooks that are guaranteed to get this record spun again & again as it should be – all in all, “Dancing With The Devil” finishes this album off with verbal swagger and music designed to be turned straight UP – and that certainly ain’t a bad way to leave it all. Boy Barrentino throws it down with confidence, precision, professionalism, and mad skills as he trades the mic with Tendoe Double K – they fully nailed this last cut. From substance to style, both BB & TDK bring their A-game to this finale – and in tandem with the LARGE bass-driven beat they’ve got kickin’ alongside’em, they’ve found that way to finish Battle With Myself on completely victorious notes.
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