There’s a definitive ring to the title of WebsterX‘s new record, 1 Of 1. It suggests something rare, something confident, something permanent. It also suggests something new: 1 Of 1 may be the Milwaukee rapper’s second proper full-length album (following 2017’s Daymares), but if feels like a fresh start.
Credit the 11-track record’s dueling moments of chaos and beauty—and time spent recording in Los Angeles—for the invigorated sound. Rowdy opener “8:08pm” finds WebsterX both embracing his multifaceted persona and killing his “humble tendencies” with lines like “Like Ric Flair got me in a sleeper hold / My two personalities not speaking though.” Late-album entry “Fighting Words” thumps along with a noisy, apocalyptic clang that calls to mind industrial bands like Nine Inch Nails. “Huffy,” “Nappy $,” and “Dreadlock Baby,” meanwhile, represent 1 Of 1 at its most crowd-pleasing. The first is an undeniable summer jam that still finds room for killer lines like “Gotta watch right-wing white people / At the same time watch left-wing too.” The third celebrates the titular hairstyle with lines like “Jesus Christ had them so shake ’em / You can have them short or drape ’em.”
Then there are the moments of beauty. “Money I Got” is full of lyrical swagger, sure, but its dreamy musical backdrop and its “it goes, it goes, it goes” chorus are downright lovely. Penultimate track “Kryptonite” is about as far-removed as possible from tracks like “Fighting Words,” slowly unspooling like a tender acoustic ballad. Ditto the playful album closer “Gumdrops,” featuring former Milwaukeen Grace Weber. Speaking of features, does the incomparable Zed Kenzo handily steal the show on the hook-heavy “Dummy”? Of course she does.
Recording of 1 Of 1 was completed back in 2019; a 2020 release was delayed by the pandemic. That delay raises an intriguing question: If this is what WebsterX was capable of two years ago, who knows what the immediate future holds? For now, though, 1 Of 1 stands as a singular work from a singular artist. Accept no imitations.
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