Fivio Foreign opens this album with his life’s testimony, scored by gospel chords and harmonious choir vocals. Titled ‘On God’ or I swear to God in American slang, it serves as instruction to trust in Maxie Lee Ryles, and it matches the personal feel given from the B.I.B.L.E documentary.
It is clear that Fivio Foreign has enlisted the support of some of music’s biggest names starting with Executive Producer Ye, with the pair sharing Fivio’s lead single, ‘City Of Gods’. The Brooklyn rapper continues the star studded line up with Migos’ Quavo, Coi Leray, ASAP Rocky, Lil Yatchy, DJ Khaled, and more. It begs the question, do the features carry this album? Or has Fivio simply adopted his executive producers’ spirituality, and merely manifesting?
Fivio is no stranger to big name features having featured on Drake’s ‘Demons’ in 2020, Pop Smokes ‘Zoo York’ later that year, and Kanye’s ‘Off The Grid’; the drill rapper holds his own and maintains his integrity no matter who he works with. That same integrity carries Ryles through his journey of loss beginning with the death of his mother in 2018, his good friends King Von and Pop Smoke in 2020, and most recently T-dott Woo in February of this year. It’s no surprise his bars carry the pain of a life ridden with loss and we can begin to make sense of the recurring theme of not only the demons around him but the one within, which he labels “demon time” during ‘Big Drip’.
‘What’s My Name’ ft Queen Naija and Coi Leray, is an example of sample drill. Incorporating Destiny’s Child’s immortal ‘Say My Name’ and giving it a drill flip, it’s actually an incredibly underwhelming and unenthused piece of music. This unfortunate theme is carried on in the track ‘Love Songs’ ft Neyo. Drill music faces a generational battle where Gen Z will find flips like this exciting, yet those who grew up listening to this music will squirm at the sound – Neyo’s vocals are heavily compressed and pitched up to match the drill beat. In fact, the old saying comes to mind: “If it aint broke, don’t fix it’. Drill music however, is not about musicality and arrangement, and when listening to drill, we cannot listen with the same ears as we would, say, gospel or rhythm and blues. Drill beats are a platform on which a rapper stands to tell a story, and often that story is born out of pain and struggle – we shouldn’t overcomplicate the simplicity of it, that is the beauty in drill music.
‘B.I.B.L.E’ is effortlessly summarised in the words of Fivio on the track ‘Whoever’: “This is a letter, (yeah) to whoever” the story will be told to whoever listens and as the story transcends borders and cultures which Fivio then says: “As we walk through the valley of…” be it pain and suffering, death and loss, new beginnings and opportunities, DJ Khaled delivers the benediction in his interlude, which is directed to Fivio but will be felt by all who hear it: no matter what your story is, “Be ready for more hate, more jealousy and more envy… with all that, comes more love, more blessings, more success, more life and more wins.”
Although I would not say that this album breaks boundaries or sparks deep emotional response, it is Fivio’s formal introduction to the world with a heavy-hitting drill project which will lead the way for future drill projects globally. Fivio signs off his debut studio album with ‘Can’t Be Us’, a heartfelt message to himself of his come up story, his challenges and motivations and acknowledging the people around him in, the best four minutes of drill music.
Words: Ath’e Zihle
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