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Big Yavo | Proof Album Review

Alabama rapper Big Yavo says “it’s hard as hell.” to make it out of your hometown. During an interview with RealLyfe Street Starz, he was asked on a scale of 1 to 10, how hard it is to blow out of Mobile, Alabama. “I feel like we don’t have anyone that’s just all the way in the industry yet,” he said. “That should tell you right there that it’s hard. Probably Yung Bleu. He ain’t do the shit overnight. It takes time, everybody put in work. It’s hard as hell where we from. We at the bottom of the map.” The response paints a picture of a Southern region that doesn’t get mentioned as a top city in Rap for co-signs or impact despite producing some big names like Rich Boy, Flo Milli, OMB Peezy, NoCap, and Rylo Rodriguez. Alabama shouldn’t be overlooked when cities like Mobile and Birmingham have talent like Big Yavo who are clearly up next up.

Big Yavo (formerly 41st Yavo) has been a booming voice you’ve needed to know for a minute after he scored several viral hits, running up TikTok numbers for songs like “Him” and “Rich.” He embraces the TikTok push because it’s another platform to get him heard. He first saw the viral phemonmen work in his favor when “No Pen” blew up on YouTube with over 12 million views. For someone who wanted to play baseball before deciding to take a shot at rapping, his brand of explosive bars and trunk-rattling beats has paid dividends. He’s been highly prolific ever since he picked up a mic, dropping projects like 2020’s On God, 2021’s On God II and Like Yay which landed on Billboard’s Heatseekers charts, and 2022’s The Largest.

On Aug. 18, Big Yavo continued applying pressure with his new album Proof. As he prefaced before its release, the album is literal proof that there’s no cap in his raps, coming from the “muddy” to speak on things that a fact checker would have no problem verifying in the streets. It offers more consistency in his heavy-duty trap sound, establishing his presence in the game with wordplay and dexterous punchlines. Proof is Big Yavo devouring beats and feeling comfortable loading up line after line in his verses. It’s working for him so far, but it leaves you wondering if he’s ready to switch up the style and start experimenting more.

Big Yavo joins the likes of BigXThaPlug and That Mexican OT as rappers who freestyle endlessly on tracks and forget about the hook. For rappers like them, it’s less about song structure, evidenced by putting out songs that feature straight rapping for minutes, and more about an extended verse that acts as a hook, highlighting their strengths.

Proof is a rap album made for the streaming era at 15 tracks and under 40 minutes, but that also holds it back: there are too many songs that blend into each other. On the first half of the album, “Plot,” “Yay Back,” “Facts,” “30 Bars,” and “Mocean” fall on the same tempo and have little variation in beat structure. Maybe this was done purposely, as Big Yavo raps “it’s easy to hop on these beats and go crazy” on “30 Bars.” He doesn’t push himself outside of these early 2000s-esque Lil Boosie beats, even if they set him up to rap phenomenally.

He’s earning his reputation as a punchline king of the Bible Belt, dropping bars that mention Harry Potter, Erykah Badu, Ja Rule, Ashanti, Flo Milli, Nikola Jokić, and more. It’s fun to listen through Proof and catch his sports references, clearly inspired by Lil Wayne to think of some good ones on the fly. “Call me Yay Chamberlain, ’cause I just scored a hundred” and “I keep a rocket, and my money taller than Yao Ming” are just a few that add to his extensive list of references heard throughout his catalog.

In terms of comparisons, Big Yavo takes from Boosie Badazz, Webbie, Lil Wayne, and Gucci Mane, calling back to their flows or using similar melodies from their hit songs on “Mocean,” “Hardy Brothers,” and “So Fr.” Alabama borders Georgia, and Louisiana isn’t too far away, so it’s fair to say his regional influences are painted on his music. When he decides to break away from that sound, his originality comes through on “Spoon Fed,” taking the concept of “a closed mouth don’t get fed” and applying it to his world. Others like “Freestyle” and “Splurge” sound spontaneous with a clear narrative, delivering country boy raps with a tough face. His last track “Losing Touch” is his best effort as far as creating a complete song, tapping into his melodic side to express how substance abuse, and getting caught up with money responsibilities for his people have him off his game.

Proof is just another stepping stone towards his goal of being the rap star out of Mobile and investing in his talents. He doesn’t take any risks in his beat selection, and he sticks to what he knows, perfectly fine for the dedicated Big Yavo fan looking for something to ride to. While Proof isn’t revolutionary for Big Yavo’s sound, it’s proof that he can rap his ass off and he’s going to keep talking shit until you get it.

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