BlocBoy JB struggles to 'Look Alive' behind Drake
Breaking out in the hip-hop scene is an immensely difficult task, a notion that has largely been lost on the public after seeing the relatively swift rise of acts such as Lil Yachty, Trippie Redd and Lil Pump, to name a few.
It might appear to the casual listener that all one needs is a microphone and a SoundCloud account to generate an energetic following. The truth is less straightforward – artists that seemingly explode overnight usually have a history of mixtapes under their belt. Take YoungBoy NBA for instance. The Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native began putting out projects in 2014, not receiving widespread attention until October 2016 with his mixtape “38 Baby.”
Such is also the case with BlocBoy JB, a relatively unknown artist for mainstream audiences who don’t have a pulse on the underground hip-hop scene. Yet with a recent Drake collaboration in the form of the infectious “Look Alive,” released jointly through OVO Sound and Warner Bros. Records, the rising star could be set as a new industry player – if only he’d be one on his own track.
By now most people have heard the age-old moniker “sex sells.” So, it would seem, does Drake. The rapper rarely struggles to get a song off the ground, making platinum hits out of tracks such as ILoveMakonnen’s 2014 slow club jam “Tuesday.”
Yet unlike “Tuesday,” where Drake largely stepped aside, BlocBoy JB’s “Look Alive” finds the Toronto native playing the older brother – flaunting his varsity status while his underappreciated sibling stares at his toes in the background. What is problematic about this strategy is that is does little to showcase BlocBoy JB’s talents, and makes him come off as incredibly forgettable.
Another issue arises with the fact that the track feels like a quintessential Drake song. He occupies the majority of the 3:01 runtime. BlocBoy JB doesn’t chime in until 1:37, and fades out again at 2:17, meaning he spends only 40 seconds on his own project. Additionally, the production by Tay Keith seems emulative of Drake’s go-to Noah “40” Shebib: a charging baseline, light background melody and some hi-hat variation. This is a winning formula, no doubt, but one that fails to showcase BlocBoy JB in his own work.
While no doubt hoping to capitalize on the star power of his assist, as many would be prone to do, it feels as if BlocBoy is not able to carry the song himself. The verse he does lend is somewhat generic and confusing. For instance, in his discourse he tells two women that he will perform oral sex by channeling the action of blowing a ‘flute,’ leading one to wonder if he knows just what the sex act entails.
Such a verbal blunder harkens back to Lil Yachty proclaiming on the Migos-assisted “Peek A Boo” that his new significant other “blow [sic] that dick like a cello.” One can only hope not.
Lyrical technicalities aside, “Look Alive” suffers from an artist who took a back seat on his own project. While enjoyable as a Drake track, the release does little to promote the status of its headliner. It will be curious to see if BlocBoy JB carries the momentum from this song into a project that succeeds without A-list help. One can only hope his star isn’t set for the same obscure fate as the aforementioned ILoveMakonnen.