Published Mar 04, 2016As relative newcomer, Bas will readily admit that a J. Cole co-sign can do a lot for one's stock. But despite a still-young career that's seen him perform at the mecca that is Madison Square Garden, the Queens MC's sophomore project, Too High to Riot, deals largely with personal, not material growth.
Beginning with "Methylone," the LP is ripe with lessons learned on Bas' way to flirting with superstardom. The track opens with a cynical, straightforward bar — "Good things don't happen to good people" — before denouncing the snakes in constant search of coattails: "Niggas take advantage, olive branches start to splinter." But it's "Penthouse" that best exemplifies Bas' frame of mind, and finds him the most torn between his desire to bask in the enviable, yet detached reality of his stardom ("I don't wanna feel the bottom") and/or remain grounded: "I wish heaven had visiting hours / I wish we could hit the ave like we used to." Too High is consistent throughout, avoiding filler almost entirely save for "Ricochet," a lackadaisical attempt at rekindling lost love. Overall, the wordsmith has forgone boisterous rhymes about materialism, conveying a maturity that never preaches — something that many of his peers generally don't reach until a handful of albums in.
As far as the production is concerned, the beats are mostly kept within J. Cole's Dreamville stable, handled by Ron Gilmore and Cedric Brown, among others. Bas may proudly rep Queens, but much to the dismay of heads wishing he'd "bring New York back," the LP's sound echoes the left coast more strongly. While keeping the beats in-house usually makes for a sonically cohesive project, THTR sometimes flirts with monotony, but Bas compensates by riding each one of them effortlessly.
Too High to Riot is a lesson in success in young adulthood. Bas has lived, learned and matured, but is still determined to live in the moment. One thing's for sure, though: his partnership with J. Cole is bearing professional and creative fruit. (Dreamville Records/Interscope)