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454 & Surf Gang | Fast 5 Album Review

454 raps about two things: spending money and chasing relationships. The NYC based artist created a buzz last year with his project Fast Trax 3, with songs like “Stitch + Lilo,” “Tales from the Hood,” and “Love Me, Hate Me”. Fast 5 EP, 454’s latest tape is produced entirely by NYC collective Surf Gang and it’s his most melodic offering yet.

454 is a hopeless romantic, singing about a love that seems unattainable. When he sings about things like love and relationships, it feels like a fever dream. On the opening track, “ANGEL,” Surf Gang’s beat sounds like falling in love, warming and embracing, foreboding yet exciting. 454 croons along, “like a drug, I love how you make me feel,” and later switching up and flexing on his peers, “these n-ggas small, they look like fleas.”

Surf Gang does a stellar job with setting the tone for Fast 5. The production cruises with icy synths, ambient negative space, and refreshing ideas. They make it feel like 454 is in the middle of a snow storm flexing his two tone vehicles. It’s filled with imagery and wonder, and with 454’s unique vocal range, the production allows enough open space to spotlight his performances.

On “BARBIE,” 454 is relatable as he battles the complexities of a budding relationship. “You know I miss your face, I keep your picture in my wallet,” 454 sings with convincing resolve. In a climate where romanticism is abandoned due to mansophere politics, it’s endearing to hear a young rapper respectfully seek love.

454 pivots from a certified lover boy, to riding for his team in the streets. He sings bubblegum hooks that can simultaneously be for a girl he’s courting or the block he’s about to spin. “Nextel” sees 454 lean into the streets and his swagger, “baptizing with the heat team.” He’s fearless in the streets, backstabbed by friends, but it’s matters of the heart that leaves him breathless.

“COBRA” features Sickboyrari, and it’s the most exhilarating track on the tape. Sickboyrari’s voice warbles from the heavy autotune, rapping like he just woke up from a codeine coma. “Gangster Party” displays one of the most poignant moments from 454’s pen. “My og said he went to prison, then came out a Rasta. He was movin proper, and they still knocked him,” 454 harmonizes about the unforgiving callous nature of the streets. 454 displays the street life, the rapper life, and his love life. When 454 raps about women dating dweebs, there’s an undeniable cool to his demeanor.

454 and Surf Gang have immaculate chemistry. 454’s voice can mold to any canvas, and Surf Gang’s unique ear for compositions creates stunning results. 454’s past work blurred the lines of hyperpop, trap, and elements of plug, whereas Surf Gang originated in heavy sampling, drill, and alternative trap. On Fast 5, they share each other’s worlds in order to create something fun and entirely refreshing.



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