Album review: ST 2 Lettaz makes rap success without other half of G-Side

by Beckett Bathanti – sbathant@unca.edu – Sports Editor

ST 2 Lettaz, formerly a member of the mostly ignored Huntsville, Ala., rap duo G-Side, seems to be doing just fine without Yung Clova.

Originally intended to be G-Side’s follow up to 2011’s sensational Island, The G was released March 5 as ST’s solo debut and is a solid, if uneven addition, to the growing legacy of Alabama rap.

ST raps in a voice full of as much weariness as aggression. It is a rasp easily molded from a very traditional flow on the dusty “Trillmatic” to a choppy menace one song later on “Green Light District.”

ST is at his best when he is taking a minute away from his inner turmoil to indulge himself. “Get One” is a remarkable song, bathed in a sinister light by the Block Beattaz atmospheric production. ST turns in a rare sleazy performance on the track and the whole thing sounds like a shimmering nightclub through a haze of molly and weed smoke.

He sounds right at home on the distorted funk of “Green Light District,” smirking as he delivers lines like, “Hit that bitch with P’s and O’s, she flipped them letters like Vanna White.”

But for the most part, The G is a heavy listen. It is a testament to ST’s writing and the reliably interesting knock of the Block Beattaz that this album does not bog down.

ST steers clear of self-righteousness for the most part, although “Flashlight” is fairly cringe-worthy. Even beyond lines like, “What good is having a choice if you only choose to hurt somebody else?” the entire premise of the song is a saccharine misstep. “I pray to God if I live again, he let me return as a flashlight, to illuminate somebody’s path, be a minute of light in a dark hour,” ST half raps in a mid-song interlude.

The Block Beattaz, made up of CP and Mali Boi, have been producing for G-Side since their inception, and are some of the most under-appreciated producers around. They have an incredible knack for turning limp-wristed club and electronica samples into trunk rattling bangers.

However, their potential never reaches its fullest extent on some of the more boom-bap, intentional throwback tracks like “Trillmatic” and “Luv Song.”

“Luv Song” is a disappointing, forced attempt at romantic sincerity that falls flat.

There are a few truly brilliant spots on this album, mostly engineered by the Block Beattaz.

“Ocean” is a sweeping, desperate song where ST gets overshadowed through no fault of his own. Scandinavian singer Julia Spada is featured on the sampled hook and steals the show with ease. She wails over strings and light drums, “We’ve reached the edge here, nothing to save,” right as the Block Beattaz drop the beat and rumbling bass suddenly appears, churning the track into something completely new.

“Wasted Youth” uses gorgeous, choral vocal samples floating above ST’s best verse on the album and a chopped and screwed hook that sounds like pure exhaustion.

If The G seems underwhelming, it is probably because G-Side’s string of nearly flawless albums has set the bar unfairly high.

It may not be the opus one may have expected from ST 2 Lettaz, but The G is the sound of a strong, underrated MC attempting to find his solo identity mere months after breaking out on his own.

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