In his Mumble Rap 2 review, Kevin Bourne says Belly brought hip-hop back to the underground reminding listeners why we fell in love with hip-hop.
Palestinian-Canadian rapper and songwriter, Belly, returned today with a brand new album Mumble Rap 2. The project is a follow up to his 2021 release See You Next Wednesday and his 2017 release Mumble Rap. Where See You Next Wednesday had commercial hits and big features alongside bars, Mumble Rap 2 follows in the footsteps on its predecessor with few big features and lots of bars and classic hip-hop production courtesy of Hit-Boy, The ANMLS, Danny Boy Styles, and Gatineau, Quebec native Da Heala.
A few tracks in, you know that Belly is from a different era in hip-hop. Although he’s from Canada via Palestine, there are nods to classic New York hip-hop. While he has shown in the past that he’s capable of doing melodic hip-hop and can sound good on more pop sounding tracks, especially alongside The Weeknd, his strength is wordplay and he provides that in spades on the album.
While still having modern touches, Mumble Rap 2 is a throwback to the Golden Era of hip-hop when hip-hop heads would go to the record store on release day and head back to the crib to play the album from beginning to end, rewinding every time you landed on a dope punchline. That’s the feeling this album provides. It not only has a hip-hop sound, but it oozes the culture of hip-hop in a time when a lot of hip-hop prioritizes commerciality over culture.
There’s a little bit of everything on this album. There’s truth for everyday life, history, social issues, rebellion, and things you’d expect from a hip-hop album, like drugs and women.
Going through the tracks, there’s so much to love about this album.
There’s the lyrical gymnastics on the intro track “Capone’s Demise”, the boom-bap sound and Gil Scott-Heron feature on “Loyalty v. Royalty”, which draws some Wu-tang inspiration alongside “World Changed”. There’s the Hov-esque “Heroic Villains”, one of the standout songs on the album, and there’s Nav who snaps on his feature on “Just Like Me”.
When it comes to production, wordplay and flow, we don’t get that many “stink face” inducing albums in 2023. It’s been a while, but Mumble Rap 2 is one of those.
Although, reviews aren’t traditionally supposed to be personal, I’ll say that this album almost brought a tear to my eye. Although I’ve become a fan of modern hip-hop, which oftentimes prioritizes vibes over lyrics, this album gave me a feeling I haven’t felt in a long time. It reminded me of why I fell in love with hip-hop. It brought hip-hop back to the underground for a moment when hearing an album for the first time felt like you were a part of a secret and exclusive club that most people didn’t know about. It reminded me of when hip-hop felt like ours and not something that belonged to the world or the industry.
Overall, XO artists are known for not just dropping great singles, but delivering good to great albums, and Mumble Rap 2 is the latest to join the club.