During the controversial rise of XXXtentacion, there was a figure standing quietly in the peripheral vision of the eyes that could not look away from the Florida native. This figure would step, or perhaps backflip, out of the shadows with a wild, eccentric presence that made his former obscurity seem unfathomable. That figure was Ski Mask the Slump God, and this debut album is a validation of the hope I felt when he began to emerge as one of raps new maniacal weirdos.
The rapid, off-the-wall flows that Ski Mask is famous for are not only in full force on Beware the Book of Eli, but it is clear that Ski Mask has both advanced it and embraced it as his trademark. The flows spread across this album are not only profoundly different from song to song, but in some cases the cadence he employs switch from unique melody to unique melody several times within one song. “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” and “Dapper Dan” are both examples of this. Ski Mask is able to manipulate his voice in order to create flows that make his words bounce off one another while also avoiding predictable patterns in his sound. There is also something to be said about SahBabii matching Ski Mask in both energy and general weirdness on the former track, as this brings the song together while many of the other features fail to do.
This weirdness, as well as the energy, chaos, and effortless style Ski Mask imbues in it, are apparent not only in the songs’ melodies but in the obscure, comedic, and sometimes even nasty lyrics. Ski Mask references everything from GoGurt to The Fairly Oddparents, and he never shies away from the absurd and disgusting. There is a song titled “Bukkake” and if that itself does not demonstrate Ski Mask’s commitment to the strange vulgarity and humor of his persona then the lyrics will. It is impossible to listen to a track like “DoIHaveTheSauce?” or “Run” and not picture Ski Mask as the devilish cartoon character depicted on the albums cover.
This character also goes hand in hand with the maniacal production. The beats used here, namely “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle,” give the impression that Ski Mask does not ride the beat in the way many of his contemporaries do. Rather, Ski Mask simultaneously gives the beat its character with his cadence while using the oddness of the beat to make his cadence seem even wilder. Ski Mask the Slump God could probably rap over the “Gary Come Home” song from SpongeBob Squarepants and make that work.
Beware the Book of Eli only falls short in its features and length. While he is popular at this moment, it feels as if two Rich the Kid features is two features too many, though he manages to redeem his mediocre performance on “Lost Souls” with a stronger verse on “Bukkake.” Luckily for Rich the Kid, the single worst moment on the record has to go to Ronny J’s verse on “Throwaway.” This verse is just amateurish, annoying, and a reminder to Ronny J to stick to production. Danny Tower’s contribution is also lukewarm, but the fact that it is on the most boring song on the entire album only worsens it. This song also happens to be one of the longer ones here, which gets down to Ski Mask’s problematic love for short songs. While he does manage to pack a great deal into two-minute songs, there is always a desire for more from him. There is always that desire to see what more Ski Mask could do on a song, just as this album, despite these few flaws, leaves me with the desire to see what Ski Mask will do in the future. He has had a brilliant start.