Gauging how “good” a rapper is, more often than not, depends on his or her ability to write lyrics. Do the things that they’re saying make sense? Is wordplay involved? How complex are their metaphors and similes? And how relatable is that content? Asking if an artist is a good songwriter is a completely different question. Today, I’ll be reviewing the Busy Gang’s 800捌佰 mixtape and I do not have the privilege of analyzing the trio of rapper’s (Al Rocco, Koz, and Blow Fever) lyrics because I won’t have a clue as to what they’re saying, and not in the Young Thug type of way. The Busy Gang hails from Shanghai, China and rap in Mandarin Chinese.
I’m an English speaking American but music speaks to me in a language of notes and emotion which I can understand in any vernacular. I’ll be breaking down 800捌佰 based on it’s musicality and listenability more so than a critical analysis of lyrics which the average rap fan tends to resonate with. I mean, what choice do I have? Chinese is Greek to me.
1. The Game 游戏
The mixtape starts with an airy harp melody accompanied by dirty snares backing a screwed up Cam’ron sample of him quoting Biggie. Let’s keep it funky, the Chinese bootleg game is strong but “borrowing” in Hiphop isn’t a Chinese thing. Everyone does it and this track does it well. Koz brings in the first verse of the tape and homies delivery reminds me of some Schoolboy Q shit which may seem odd but if you listen, you’ll get it. Blow Fever comes to bat next and honestly, it’s going to be hard for me to differentiate between Blow and Koz on this tape. Al Rocco anchors the song and his voice and delivery definitely adds a needed dynamic. He also adds that English twist which is cool. The content ain’t all that ill or whatever but Rocco let’s us know he needs a big booty bitch which we all need once in a while.
2. Legends 传奇
Okay, I know what I’m in for. The Busy Gang is heavily influenced by American trap rap music and I’m not mad at that. This beat has heavy drums and a repetitive bells which is formulaic for that trap sound. The hook is a loud chant which I could hear being chanted by my Chief Keef fan friends if they could understand what they were saying. I especially like Rocco’s verse on this because his flow bounces on this joint but this joint aint really for my taste. It’s aggressive but it doesn’t have that musicality that I want in my trap music. That’s just me, though.
3. Ganja Wang 干架王
This is more like it. This beat is more interesting than the last mundane trap joint. The hook repeats “Ganja Wang” directly mimicking the melody of the synths of the track and it feels Chinese, just like I wanted. I didn’t start listening to 800捌佰 wanting to hear an impersonation of shit I already listen to. I wanted to Chinese rap music and this track gives me that.
4. Nobody Knows 没人知道
This is a Koz solo joint and yo! My favorite joint so far. The melody on this joint is crazy. It feels like Chinese Kid Cudi song or something and that’s a big statement. This beat is ill as fuck too. The bass is looming and on the opposite end there’s these chimes that set off the track but Koz’s melody writing made ths song come to life. And the thing I said about wanting this tape to be Chinese rap music, this really does that shit well. Thank you, Koz.
5. Going Hard 强硬
The beat is cool. It’s easy to like but also easy to get tired of quickly because it gets very repetitive. I’ve heard better flows from both Koz and Rocco earlier on the tape so this track is definitely listenable for the sake of the cool beat but definitely not a stand out joint to me.
6. Free CK
The beat is a simple steel drum melody over crunchy snares which really let the emcees verses shine which I’m into. I could imagine this bumping on a good stereo system riding down the streets of Shanghai and turning heads. That emotion is needed in every rap album and this song does that for me.
7. My Love Don’t Go
Alright. I’m a sucker for a good rap song written for girls. If we’re keeping it a buck, women are every good man’s muse so I don’t feel no way saying I appreciate art made in their honor. This is definitely a sexy R&B joint and these things can easily get cheesy with out even trying and this has a hint of that but I still fuck with it. The writing is good, especially the hook. The feel a little guilty still listening to an autotuned R&B song when it’s almost 2015 but I’ll deal with that. Rocco adds the rap verse to throw in some rough neck shit and it’s formulaic but it works. That’s what a formula is for, right?
8. Balling 大富翁
The beat should be louder. It’s not a crazy creative or interesting beat but it does the job of hyping things up. The hook doesn’t interest me though. The melody of the hook feels too sing-songy for a track like this. The second verse on this is mean as fuck, in terms of flow and delivery. I still don’t know what the fuck they’re saying but that makes this fun.
9. Turnt Up
The production and writing for this is perfect from the adlibs, to the screwed up hook, to the levels, and sound dynamics. The entire Busy Gang stepped up and their delivery on this feels flawless. The track is just haunting enough to keep you interested without having elements to distract you. The Gang called on the talented of Hong Kong’s JBo to anchor shit and his flow is so ill for this. Honestly, these are my homies but some of their lyrics really don’t say much but that don’t fuck me up in the slightest because how you say shit is so much more important than what you say and these guys know how to say shit.
10. Touch Ya Body
Another R&B rap joint. These guys actually do these songs well so I’m not too mad at it. I do believe these songs will get a lot of good attention and that’s what’s up. My critique is that these joints don’t really do anything different and don’t explore the artistic boundaries of their shit that I’m confident these guys could do.
11. Red Money RMB人民币
A Rocco solo joint that showcases his deep delivery and comes off cool. I like this joint a lot. The concept is super Chinese too keeping it true to their trap shit and at the same time connecting it to the Chinese shit.
12. USTDI 你还是不知道
This gave me the scunchface, the ultimate nod to a great rap song. The melody reminds me of that Halloween movie riff. The beat is real dope and makes this a fun listen. Rocco and Blow are comfortable on this joint and you can tell in their delivery.
13. Time Out
Mustard on the beat, hoe! Sike naw. But this joint could be a Mustard joint so easy and I’m sure the producer thought the same. The hook is crazy polished and catchy. No shots, but it feels a bit more polished than the rest of the tape and almost feels out of place because of that. This really feels like a Kid Ink joint or something which isn’t a bad thing but again it’s not taking any risks. Definitely a stand out joint but that’s almost bad because it might outshine some of the realer, grittier joints.
Let me take a break right now. This tape is 19 tracks! Honestly, that’s too much. I know every artist thinks all their shit is ill and they think the customer would appreciate more than less but curating is a big part of artistry. I would honestly have appreciate less joints. It’s exhausting listening to a 19 track tape no matter how much variety it has. I want the artist to pick out what songs they want me to hear.
14. Turnt Up Trap Remix
My review of the original said it was almost perfect but I’m not mad at this trap remix either. This is definitely that MDMA remix and would have me cooking with my eyes rolling back. It’s just a fun party joint added to the mix.
15. Red Money RMB人民币 Shanghai Remix
A similar beat remix on the original with added verses from the Busy Gang and other Shanghai rappers. I definitely prefer the original Rocco solo joint over this.
16. Supa Dope 夸张
Here’s something different! I fuck with this joint heavy. The beat is a lot more interesting then the usual trap beat and definitely keeps shit funky. Scrunchface. Rocco shines on that first verse riding this eccentric track but making it seem easy. I let this beat ride out while I close my eyes and have MDMA dreams.
17. Speeding 超速
A refreshing switch up in beats. This joint is definitely darker and I was hoping the content would be a bit more introspective but it’s some of the same but it does sound good. The hook is rather lackluster though. I really wish they spent more time on this one because it could’ve turned into something ill. The second verse by Khaki was crazy nice too! A better hook would’ve let this joint shine and compete for one of the better tracks. Fell a bit short though.
18. Work Out Cash Out 赚钱与花钱
I’ve seen this video before and it’s an okay song but left me unimpressed. I know these dudes can flow and their delivery is on point so I wish they would take more risks in their music. If they were a bit pickier about beat selection they could really utilize that strong flow and delivery better for better songs.
19. Song Cry (Live) 妹妹找哥泪花流
^Yo, that Chinese look crazy right? Try writing that shit for fun, you’ll get a cramp. Anyways, I thought this was going to a Jay Z homage to the classic song by the same name but I guess this is a Chinese ballad the Busy Gang fucks with. An odd mix to the tape for sure but I applaud keeping it creative and I enjoyed the singing if anything. Talented female, whoever it is. Oh, I actually got to the rap verse. I guess one of the Gang has a feature on this joint. That’s what’s up! I would’ve thrown this in the middle of the tape as more of an interlude type thing than end with it, though. It has the listener end on an odd note that doesn’t feel like what the Busy Gang is about at all which is a weird way to leave us.
So all in all I think it’s a cool tape. The Busy Gang was just being the Busy Gang and doing what they do best, which is Chinese trap music mostly. They really do have polished flows and delivery so I wish they would be more confident in that and pick some riskier beats and explore their artistry a bit more. The critique I would have is the tape would be a lot stronger if they cut it down to like 12 joints and sequenced it a lot better. It started off kind of weak, had a really strong middle, and the ending was just completely wrong. Sequencing matters a lot when putting together a project because the project as a whole should play like a story and have a reasoning as to why the next song is next. I liked the Busy Gang before this and I still do but I’m left hoping for more from the next project and seeing growth. Maybe by then I’ll brush up on some Mandarin and be able to give a more analytical critique as well! Probably not.
But let’s take a second to look at this mixtape cover. It’s cool and all but that booty on the left is absolutely terrible. Her butt is so bad her G string is running away from it. Her butt is so bad her g string is lower case. Her butt is so bad dude in the middle is scratching his head wondering how he got in this mess. Her butt is so bad it needs electrolytes. Turn around! The Gatorade is right on the table yo!