“It’s the craft man, its what you supposed to do…bleed for it”
Sophomore albums suffer the sometimes-unfair scrutiny of being expected to supersede the debut or at least maintain the standard set. Sophomores enter the fray with more expectations and standards set before play is pressed.Solo’s sophomore “Dream.B.Plenty” not only enters as a sophomore but as the middle child of the planned trilogy with “C.Plenty.Dreams” as a closing chapter.
There is the undeniable pressure for Solo to not only grow as an artist but also showcase his stat quo and with that in mind, the story of the middle ground as Solo has been numerously quoted about the album is vividly displayed in the album with not only the transcending production courtesy of Buks and Junior Singo, the lyricism which sways from one point to the next without any stuttering in between to the whole concept and linear movement of the story throughout the album.
To say “Dreams.B.Plenty” is different from the 2014 debut would be true but so grossly reductive and simplistic of the work and quality exhibited in the album. The lyrics are more aggressive and intense and then simmer down to sentimental as you carry on listening to the album. The beats are more bass driven, attention grabbing and support the braggadocio in Solo’s voice then merge with the introspection near the end as opposed to the vulnerability exhibited in “Dreams.A.Plenty”. The synergy between the production, the skits, the lyricism drive the point home and vividly paint the story herein the album. From simple things like Solo saying his family is messing up the story his parents are telling about their marriage gives you a feel of, whats real is authentic and the actors did what they do best in the skits.
“Dreams.B.Plenty” is a concept album. Every track is memory, an event, an important feature in the story of pursuing dreams that include self awareness of your talents, carving your lane from studying the game, working tirelessly at your dreams, having a team that believes in your vision, having your family support your dreams despite little to no information they may have about your specific dream and finally, the state of being ready for the success you feel is due to you. The story is consistent, coherent and cleverly executed in the theme of an airport.
As aforementioned about the middle ground, the airport is the Segway to the next destination and in the album, this is where the thoughts that are laced over thumping beats; Solo details his life’s goals, treasures, confidence, past life lessons, personal ambitions for himself and all who support him and the patience he feels he has to endure for him to reach the next destination.
“Dreams.B.Plenty” is a concept album.
Starting off with an announcement of the 50th anniversary by his parents, Solo rushes to catch the flight he feels his running late for. Its in the skit in “Benchwarmers” that the listener gets the idea that Solo feels he is ready for the next step in his career, duly overdue as he states,
“I did everything possible to silence a non-believer / lot of lyrics scratched out that would have burnt them like Cohibas / tryna match my demeanor? I been meaner with the spit / try comparisons with other dreamers? they simple as shit”
The collabo with Ziyon on “How Cool Is This Love” is a statement of appreciation to the support from his team BETR Gang. The team built with a single vision of being unapologetic dope in what they do despite standards and gatekeepers’ constant reminders of being unique is not the wave. Straight from that, Solo carries on showing that he and his team are not afraid of putting in work. Working “Overtime” is what he and his team are built for and despite being an anomaly to the industry, the industry people are watching them as he cleverly woves a clever reference about veteran actor Jerry Mofokeng when he says,
“Jerry Mofokengs when I view you guys closely, coz acts as much as they like, they got their good eye on me”
It’s also to be noted that “Overtime” on the album not only now includes slight production accentuation, an extra verse at the end but also, there’s a slight change in the lyrics that make it even more current. The Irving / James as opposed to D Wade / James line. For the listener, it re-inforces how the theme of the album, the mindset exhibited throughout the album stays consistent. (Solo also says, “I buckle down relentless” very strong on the album)
It’s the little nuggets like those that make the whole album a pleasure to listen to from start to finish; it engages the listener without forcing their hand, songs like “30 000FT” is Solo at his full braggadocious lyricist driven form. Stating he is miles above many rappers, he is unapologetic about his skills. Staying on that high level, the outlandish production of Buks is ushered in on “Stripes” which has become BETR Gang fanbase anthem. Solo alongside Buks state they are not about to short change with their qualifications of being awesome spitters, they earned their way through the game and aren’t shaken but what the game has on offer. “Poster Child” which was a single where Solo asks if selfies are the new standard of fan acknowledgement, is also a testament of how much the industry has changed in the past few years. Yes, I’m from the school of having your favorite rappers posters on the wall rather than them as memes.
Solo speaks of his relationships that didn’t work out in “First Draft” and then immediately jumps to one that he is dedicated and committed to in “Ball and Chain”, alongside the talented vocalist Lily Million.
The mood of the album takes a turn when Elo croons on “Frequent Flyer”, “I get to say that I’m fading away into me”. This is when Solo ponders about the next destination of his career. The braggadocio is replaced by introspection. This is when he thinks if the next point is his final destination, which leads to “One Way Ticket” which features Spoek Mathambo, whose career is metaphorically a one way ticket. He took off from the SA scene and went international.
“Not Vogue” has an uncanny similar feel to “Kinda Sorta” from the debut album but it certainly gives that feel as Junior Singo is on the boards of both but as the latter shows uncertainty, “Not Vogue” exhibits a realistic view of confidence and self awareness.
“If that shit works, we so fucken out of here…even if I’m out of this game, I’ll be a pioneer”
“First Class Etiquette” can be called as the direct opposite of “30 000FT”. FCE is more softer, serene and calculated as “30 000FT” is brash, unapologetic and no holds barred lyricism attack.
The songs, “A Safer High” and “Jubilee NoLigamo” are odes to Solo’s mother and grandmother and cousin respectively. Solo takes time to appreciate his mother’s contribution to his life and how those teachings and seeing his mother make sacrifices for their family taught him to make sacrifices for his team and family alike. “Jubilee NoLigamo” is Solo paying respect the one way he knows how, by music.
The last turning part is the skit before the exit track or entrance track to the next installment depending on how you look at it. It encompasses the album’s theme in change of tone of the question asked and makes you anticipate Solo’s next move.
“Dreams.B.Plenty” is a heavily layered album. Everything fits into the next as it fits into the whole picture the album is setting. Listening to the album, to fully understand its point and goal, can’t be an absent minded experience. Its definitely not a gym playlist album, it’s a thinking album. It’s a conversation album where one has with themselves. You listen to the songs and ask yourself where are you in your own dreams. Are you en route to the airport, are you at the airport, are you encountering issues with your check in, are you prepared for take off and most importantly, are you prepared to take this flight you have chosen?
Written by S Dot (@SDotJR_ )