Lil Skies is a 22-year-old rapper from Pennsylvania. In 2018, he blew up off the success of his mixtape Life Of A Dark Rose, which included the hit singles “Red Roses” and “Nowadays”. Since then, he hasn’t made much noise, with his debut album Shelby being super disappointing aside from the track “I”. Last weekend, he dropped his second LP, Unbothered. With features from Lil Durk and Wiz Khalifia, will Lil Skies be able to earn the respect he once had?
While his performance isn’t entirely terrible, Skies doesn’t do anything memorable here. The hunger he possessed years ago is pretty much nonexistent, and any bit of artistic integrity shown turns out to be disastrous. Just like 99% of modern mainstream hip hop projects, the record opens up with your painfully generic motivational anthem in “Fade Away”. Hearing Skies reminisce on the same problems he and his peers have been complaining about for what feels like centuries is an immediate turnoff, and it’s already enough to throw you out of the entire experience. Fortunately, if your ready to run away at this point, you won’t miss out on anything, as songs like “Take 5,” “Dead Broke,” and “On Sight” sound like every other lifeless track he’s ever recorded. Even “Excite Me” with Wiz Khalifa is just flat out terrible between Lil Skies’ abysmal hook, forgettable verse, and the off-putting melodic guest appearance from Wiz himself. Being somewhat a saving grace, “Having My Way” is actually an energetic banger with its braggadocios bars and standout feature from Chicago’s very own Lil Durk.
As Unbothered progresses, things improve, but it’s far from enough to make the project significantly better. “Ok” is the first moment of real creativity, and with Lil Skies taking a more aggressive approach in both his flow and lyricism, the song is surprisingly fun. “Think Deep Don’t Sink” and “Red Wine & Jodeci” keep this formula flowing but don’t do anything out of the ordinary to make themselves stand out. Hanging this rare found momentum off a balcony, “Locked Up” risks everything its predecessors attempted to build with its artificial songwriting that tries so hard to be emotional. Making this trainwreck worse, “Trust Nobody” is one of the corniest songs I’ve heard in a while as its tale about robbery and betrayal is delivered so robotically due to the coating of Skies autotuned vocals. Hearing him try to rap so passionately in this pocket makes this cut, and a handful of others ends up sounding like Siri reciting a sixth graders poem. On the positive side of things, this portion’s definite standout is “Riot,” which shows an autotuneless Skies talk trash to former mistresses, clout chasers, and anyone else who happens to be on his bad side. With the record’s final two tracks being the extremely dull “Sky High” and “Mhmmm,” this project somehow manages to conclude even worse than it initiated. Overall the lazy decision-making and lack of talent seen in Lil Skies’ performance have only sped up his career’s imminent extinction.
Behind the boards, there’s a run of the mill soundtrack accompanying Skies’ every move. Most of the instrumentals follow the same rinse and repeat formula all trap beats use in this modern-day and age. From “Take 5” to “Mhmmm,” nearly all the beats kick off with minimal sound and concisely pick up traction until an eventual beat drop where the stale drums and main rhythm line hold till the end. Working within these boundaries, there’s not much room for any sonic excitement, but small details such as the guitar riff on “Havin My Way” and the glitchy synths seen “On Sight” do their best to keep the listener entertained. Out of all the musical moments in these 42 tedious minutes, I honestly found the project’s opener “Fade Away” the most interesting. With its small background details and lively trap drums, this was one of the soundscapes totally worth digging through. Outside of these few highlights, the rest of the instrumentals appear to be near-duplicates of each other, which ultimately throws the rest of the LP in a giant unsalvageable clutter.
Walking away from Unbothered, it’s safe to say Lil Skies’ career is a wrap. He lacks creativity, sounds like an upgraded version of Nav, and his former hit making ability has run away from as well. In the future, if Lil Skies wants to bring this effort to an album again, he’s better off retiring because not just do critics despise him, his sales numbers have dropped to a career-low with only 15,000 first week units sold.
- Lil Durk bodied his feature
- Most songs are listenable
- Some moments are slightly fun
- Lil Skies has become one of the most unoriginal rappers in hip hop
- His autotuned vocals are some of the worst in the game
- Almost every beat sounds the same
- Such a mess of generic songs and instrumentals
- No hits or true standouts
Written by: Marc Dator
Scored and edited by: Marc Dator founder and owner of Fantastic Hip Hop