By Amanda Wicks
Superstar producer Mike WiLL Made-It returned today (March 24th) with Ransom 2, the follow-up to his 2014 mixtape Ransom. At 17 tracks, each one featuring some of hip-hop’s biggest names, it was well worth the wait.
Ransom 2 broods and bristles, but thanks to features from an array of rappers, including Young Thug, 21 Savage, Chief Keef, 2 Chainz, Future and more (so many more), each track offers more than heavy bass and a baritone. Mike WiLL steps up his game when it comes to samples, pulling from opera on “On the Come Up” and working with rhythm-happy sensibilities like Pharrell on “Aries (YuGo).” The result is a complete picture, painted with Mike WiLL’s clever ear and punctuated by each artist’s individual style.
“Perfect Pint” (feat. Kendrick Lamar, Gucci Mane, Rae Sremmurd)
Pour one for Kendrick Lamar, Gucci Mani, and Rae Sremmurd, who combine their powerhouse styles on “Perfect Pint.” Having teamed up with Mike WiLL on “Black Beatles,” Sremmurd take a page out of that chill-leaning track with the vocals they contribute to “Perfect Pint,” before Gucci comes in detailing what life has been like post-prison, including his healthy eating initiative. “Kung fu Kenny, level up,” Lamar raps for the track’s last verse, bringing a staccato-like delivery for an extra sense of cheek.
“Faith” (feat. Lil Wayne, Hoodybaby)
For the bass alone and how it’s going to sound in every car cruising down the street, “Faith” is a straight up banger. But Lil Wayne’s slower delivery and his clever lyricism take this up a notch from being merely a purely bass-heavy track. “That last trial was a setback, that red light is a death trap/ That jail time was a wrist slap, that jail time was a quick nap,” Lil Wayne raps after lighting up a blunt. But Mike WiLL shifts gears on the chorus, silencing the backing track briefly before Lil Wayne emphasizes what keeps him going through all the bleak situations, “And I always have faith.”
“On the Come Up” (feat. Big Sean)
Mike WiLL taps Big Sean to launch his new album and it’s a smart move. Thanks to the track’s operatic sample and the dramatic bass that works in tandem with the soprano’s voice, the track conveys a cinematic quality. Big Sean details what it takes to make it. “5 to 10 for a lethal weapon/ He ain’t need that sentence, he just need direction/ No one told them boys to make it outta debt you gon’ need way more than street credit,” he raps before the backing track falls silent to let his words take on greater weight.
“Aries (YuGo)” (feat. Pharrell, Station Wagon P)
In an album full of simmering tracks, Mike WiLL and Pharrell’s collaboration with Station Wagon P stands out for its brighter sample and the almost playful rhythm. “Let this motivate you, turn you up, make you ravenous,” Pharrell sings before his cadence switches gears, coming blazing fast as if he’s channeling Twista. When Station Wagon P enters before the 2-minute mark, he brings a weightier feel to the track, but that doesn’t stop Pharrell from chanting the chorus like an anthem.
“Nothing is Promised (x Rihanna)” (feat. Rihanna)
The last track on Ransom 2, Rihanna brings the heat with one of the album’s best moments. It only takes 35 seconds before Mike WiLL drops the bass, creating a magnetic effect to underscore Rihanna’s verses. “Ain’t none of this s— promised, ain’t none of this promised,” she repeats in the opening seconds of “Nothing is Promised (x Rihanna).” It’s a line she hypnotically chants on the chorus, changing the emphasis on certain words so that it eventually becomes a blur, and shortly after that shift, a plea.