In terms of intellectual insight and emotional depth, Tabi Bonney’s latest album, Summer Years, is a wasteland devoid of both of those things. Summer Years, for the most part, is just a compilation of trite, marketable hip-hop songs, rather than an album conveying something deeper. Bashing Tabi Bonney or Summer Years would be too easy — in fact, despite its surface-level flaws, the album has a fair amount of merits all its own.
While the West African-born, Washington D.C.-raised Tabi Bonney is interesting within himself, the most redeeming qualities of Summer Years come predominately from producer Ski Beatz. Beatz, after a lengthy hiatus from hip-hop, got back into the game fairly recently, producing for artists such as Bonney, Murs and Curren$y. Prior to his break, Beatz had amassed an impressive resume of artists he’s collaborated with, including the likes of Lil Kim, Nas and Jay-Z.
While the majority of the album’s beats are compelling and enjoyable, Beatz fails to deliver at certain points on the record, namely on the track “Hello & Goodbye,” which is laden with irritatingly high synth lines and poorly executed subtle dubstep wobbles that don’t really make sense on the song or the record, given the lack of dubstep influences elsewhere on Summer Years. The production on “Frontin” misses the mark as well in its resemblance to a failed Soulja Boy beat.
In its entirety, Beatz does a very interesting and praise-worthy job of creating electro-infused beats that exist within a very unique space previously unoccupied by hip-hop.
For the goal he’s trying to achieve (creating an upbeat, hip-hop record with mass appeal), Bonney does a good job with the framework Beatz lays for him. Bonney makes songs that are just fun and don’t require a lot of thought, and Summer Years definitely exemplifies this. The record isn’t conscious on any level, but Bonney makes it easy to have a great time — and that, combined with Beatz’ seasoned prowess, make Summer Years a record worth streaming at the very least.
Printed on Wednesday, October 5, 2011 as: ''Producer's beats fall flat''