I won’t make you dig too hard to find the thesis here: it takes a special sort of hack to get 13 non-descript beats, do absolutely nothing worth noting over top of them, and then call it your debut album. Of course, the label is to blame too. Were this 2014, Introverted Intuition may very well have been delivered in a similar manner to label-mates SZA’s or Isaiah Rashad’s breakthrough releases that year, that is to say, as an EP instead of an album, which is clearly is (to put it into perspective, this runs 15 minutes shorter than Clivia Demo). Not that those releases were much to shout about – in the hellhole of 2014, we take what we can – but both had reasons to care: verses from the two greatest hip-hop artists of our time appeared on Z. On the other hand, Isaiah Rashad rapped through topics of racism and alcoholism like he were Kendrick Lamar, in an elastic voice that sometimes recalled Lamar too, and the package was wrapped up with a posse cut with Jay Rock and ScHoolboy Q.
Comparatively, the only big-name feature on Introverted Intuition is ScHoolboy Q, who pops up on “Toaster” to deliver three half-sung lines that I needed a cheat-sheet to tell me it was Q (“You even got me singing for ya” isn’t a boast when the reason I gravitated towards that track in the first place was hoping to hear a verse shoot some life into this narcotic haze).
Are we surprised? Well, yes and no. No, because Lance Skiiiwalker hasn’t made much of a dent on any track he’s featured on so far: his tuneless contributions dragged out Jay Rock’s “Money Trees Deuce” on 90059 and ScHoolboy Q’s “Kno Ya Wrong” on Blank Face, and it’s anyone’s best guess to know exactly what he’s doing on Kendrick Lamar’s “Untitled 04.”
But on the other hand, I’ve come to expect better from TDE, whose in-house producers have always been capable of some gorgeous night-time beats (Digi+Phonics is responsible for partly responsible for a handful of these tracks). And yet: opening track “Forbidden Fruit” has both Sounwave (responsible for the jazziest cuts on Section.80 and To Pimp a Butterfly) and DJ Dahi (harder to sum in a bracketed sentence, but his resume moves from the hypnotic background percussion of Drake’s “Worst Behaviour” to the smooth Beach House-sampling ride of Kendrick Lamar’s “Money Trees”) on deck and uses the strengths of neither. Instead, it’s just a reverberated mess for Skiiiwalker to pitch-shift his vocals such that there’s no chance for tune. This goes on for two minutes, and then there’s a beat switch where loud drums come in and the track rides out for thirty seconds. And in case that wet blanket of an opening track weren’t enough, he follows it up with a half-baked skit-over-more-reverb where he celebrates the aloofness (“Now we have a newcomer on the way, that don’t really give a fuck what ya say”).
And the whole “album” follows suit, with most of its tracks distinguishing itself with a gimmick if we’re lucky: “Attraction” adds reverb to “Be My Baby”’s classic beat. “Could It Be” and “Advantage” are “bipartite,” or more aptly, two half-assed songs shoved together with no thought to transition to capitalize on the A.D.H.D.-crazies (though the coda of “Advantage” is the only salvageable thing in this mess aside from the string-led “Lover’s Lane”). “Speed,” produced entirely by himself, is unlistenable, etc. Tracks like “Sound” and “Reality” are drawn out by skits to hide the fact that they’d be a minute otherwise. Maybe it’s appropriate that the majority of these beats are, as mentioned, so nondescript: Skiiiwalker himself doesn’t have a personality: he begs a few girls on “Could It Be” and Frank Dukes-aided “Skit / Her Song” for a girl’s number because I think he’s confused pathetique-ness for vulnerability and confused creepiness for personality.
In an interview with DJ Booth’s Yoh, Skiiiwalker goes on about how “You hear a lot of same stuff these days. A lot of similarities. I didn’t want to be similar. I never wanted to be a similarity.” Sorry to burst your bubble, but this sounds like the exact same thing everyone’s been pushing for a while now in the corners of hip-hop and alternative R&B. It’s the narcotic haze of most of Isaiah Rashad’s The Sun’s Tirade without the benefit of a Kendrick Lamar feature, the lugubriousness of I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside without the benefit of a prodigy behind the microphone, Travi$ Scott without the connections, the Weeknd without the capacity to sing, and speaking of, all of Drake’s affiliates without the co-sign. It’s music that’s convinced that the only thing about the night-time is the lack of light; music that’s convinced that the after-after-party is somehow better than the previous ones. The worst album released by a TDE artist so far.