Contrary to popular belief, rappers try very hard. The idea that they don’t is based on a clichéd facade, full of claims that a song “only took 15 minutes to make,” or that an artist “doesn’t write anything down.” In fact, even mustering the energy and wherewithal to enter a recording booth, rhyme a bunch of words together, and make it all semi-coherent over a beat is a difficult task. But if the 22-year-old rapper and producer Ovrkast. told me he was winging it during the creation of “Face,” it’d be hard not to believe him. Honestly, it’s part of the song’s charm.
“Face” sounds like someone put a beat — albeit a very good, expertly sampled beat — over a groggy voice note. “I got people waiting on me, still tho, I can’t show my face,” the Oakland musician raps with subdued energy on the hook. When he ends a bar, his “yeahs” aren’t accentuated like Drake’s and his “uhs” don’t punch like DaBaby’s. Instead, they arrive like placeholders until he can begin rapping again, which gives the moment a warm and naturalistic touch. Contrary to the sluggish feel of the hook, Ovrkast. notches up his delivery by the verse. There’s a subtle complexity to his lines as he leans on forced rhymes, making “hate” and “plate” rhyme with “taste,” while “plan,” “gang,” and “game” all get contorted to fit into a similar rhyming scheme. Each ending bar is delivered so matter-of-factly that it’s a little mesmerizing.
Even after multiple listens, “Face” is hard to pin down, but the hook’s second-to-last bar says a lot with a little: “I got people hatin ‘on me, mad that I control my fate.” Whatever Ovrkast. has planned next, he seems squarely in control.
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