The Rickety Old Shack

Ski Mask The Slump God — Stokeley

album cover

It's been quite the busy year for up-and-coming emcee, Ski Mask The Slump God. In addition to being featured in the XXL Magazine Freshman class of 2018 — and being the only real stand-out act aside from JID — we also got Beware The Book Of Eli (review), a decent mixtape albeit a release that suffered from a lack of a smash hit single. Now, to close out 2018 we have Ski Mask's debut full-length studio album, released by Republic Records.

Similar to the aforementioned ...Book Of Eli tape, the contents of Stokeley is a mix of decent material and a few misses. I like most of the tracks on the record, although there are definitely some issues. The Lil Baby feature on "Far Gone" is grating, his voice is drenched in excessive auto-tune — even by the standards of modern trap music — and his inclusion just brings down an otherwise decent set of bars and a good instrumental. I had no idea who Lil Baby was prior to this and I have zero desire to further my knowledge. I am, however, grateful that the record isn't overloaded with guest features, as tends to be common when a label is pushing a new artist.

Ski Mask retains his irreverence and generally amusing lyrical style, and seems to be growing as a rapper. The decision to dabble in some auto-croon on tracks like "So High" and "U And I" was questionable, though I think his voice has a lot of natural melody so the result wasn't a grating, overly-processed experience. I think there's potential for Ski Mask to leverage his singing voice in the future, should he choose to hone it a little more. "Save Me, Pt. 2" was actually very well done, although the guest vocals from Austin Lam were the glue that held the song together. Conversely, Lil Yachty is featured on the closing track, "Cat Piss," and sounds pretty unenthused despite dropping some competent bars.

As much as I think the auto-croon could be utilised better in the future, I do not feel the same about his decision to include some extremely aggro screams on "La La" and "Nuketown." The distorted shouts reminded me of the very worst aspects of Ski Mask's collaborations with XXXTentacion. Even a decent performance from Juice Wrld, on "Nuketown," wasn't enough to save the track for me; I'm hoping the screaming is something that gets dropped from the arsenal going forward. That aside, Stokeley is a mixture of your typical trap stylings — the jangling hi-hats, deep bass hits and copious amounts of triplet flows — and R&B. I can appreciate the concept, and it does work for the most part; the record has a few stumbles but it doesn't fall on its ass completely.

Overall, I am encouraged by the material on Stokeley, although I still feel like Ski Mask The Slump God is still evolving and developing as an artist. In the crowded sea of Lil [Noun]s and Young [Whatever]s, Ski Mask has a trademark sound and cadence — I'm just waiting for him to truly hit his stride and drop a collection of bangers as infectious as "Catch Me Outside." I think Stokeley is a respectable debut record and is worth a listen, I just don't think we've heard the best that Ski Mask The Slump God has to offer. That said, I'm not disabused of my belief that we will eventually hear his best, and this album was a fun listen regardless of my criticism.

Summary

The debut studio album from Ski Mask The Slump God is not without flaws but, overall, is still a good trap album. Stokeley features the young emcee indulging in some experimentation with different vocal styles, and the array of instrumentals provided by the record's cast of producers are clean and high-quality. I especially liked the use of cowbell and claps on "Faucet Failure," and everything else bangs really hard without anyone phoning in a generic, stripped-down trap beat. This is not an Album Of The Year candidate by any stretch, but it's a good dose of new material from a rapper who I think has a lot of potential. While Stokeley isn't a breakout release, it's not a failure or a sign that my faith has been misplaced.

Album Information

Release date: November 30th, 2018
Record label: Republic Records

Ski Mask The Slump God — vocals
Juice Wrld — vocals (track 2)
Lil Baby — vocals (track 8)
Austin Lam — vocals (track 6)
Lil Yachty — vocals (track 13)
A Lau — production (tracks 1, 10, 12)
Tony Seltzer — production (tracks 1, 10)
Rawk — production (track 1)
Fresh ThPharmacy — production (tracks 2, 6)
Kenny Beats — production (tracks 3, 5)
ChaseTheMoney — production (tracks 7, 11)
Murda Beatz — production (track 8)
WondaGurl — production (track 9)
Binnz — production (track 9)
G Koop — production (track 9)
MadisonLST — production (track 10)
RubiRosa — production (track 12)
OG Parker — production (track 13)
Deko — production (track 13)
Too Romano — production (track 13)

Track Listing

  1. So High
  2. Nuketown
  3. Foot Fungus
  4. La La
  5. Unbothered
  6. Save Me, Pt. 2
  7. Adults Swim
  8. Far Gone
  9. Get Geeked
  10. Reborn To Rebel
  11. Faucet Failure
  12. U And I
  13. Cat Piss

—by Derek

Published: December 18th, 2018.