By Ana Gonzalez
YONAS of Youtube fame recently dropped his mixtape The Transition, which, when analyzed, can act as a summative stereotype of current mainstream hip-hop. For the most part, it is thoroughly well-produced, oozing with catchy synth lines and sung hooks that will lodge themselves in your brain for days. The use of sampling is also superb, the standouts being the backing tracks on “Pumped Up Kicks” and “Paradise (Freestyle)” (using samples from Foster the People and Coldplay, respectively). The lyrical content describes the rapper’s humble beginnings, lifetime struggles and logically intense commitment to staying on top of the game with use of some inventive wordplay and a respectively clean flow. All of these facets of The Transition make it worth a listen.
However, YONAS also monopolizes on the aspects of present day mainstream hip-hop that are becoming disgustingly overdone. Firstly, the lyrical clichés. No one wants to hear the same tired phrases in every song on their local R&B/Hip-Hop radio station. Some of the most common and overused clichés of hip-hop lyrics (popularized by YMCMB and perpetuated by YONAS on The Transition) include, but are not limited to such phrases as: “fuck the haters,” “I’m busy livin’ my life”, “I’m the realest in the game right now”; “I’m married to the game”; “I’m fresh to death”. Moreover, YONAS makes conspicuous and naïve attempts at getting radio play that have resulted in the bubblegum track, “Wanna Be Loved,” a piece that sounds a forgotten Gym Class Heroes single.
Generally, The Transition is a solid mixtape with a fistful of catchy tracks and great lyrical depth and technique at times, but it’s not going to change the rap game. YONAS is merely reveling in the current state of popular hip-hop, not daring to really push the boundaries like he has the potential to do.