"I feel like I have the skills to bring something new to the game, myself, artists around me, and in my city. That's why I named this mixtape "The New Gucci" - Ray Band$
This was the quote I received from Ray Band$ aka Gary Laners (on Facebook) as we discussed his new album before he sent it to me to review. As we all know Gucci Mane, the megastar from Atlanta, GA who has had a successful multi platinum career has also been credited with discovering ATL's newest crop of "Trap" artists such as Young Thug, Pee Wee Longway, Nicki Minaj, Waka Flocka, and more. From speaking to Ray Bandz not only does he envision himself a successful artist but also an artist that can find the next crop of talent to supply new sounds and waves in Midwest music. In an era of the "Playlist", full length mixtapes have become more and more rare but I am glad to see an artist take time on a body of work and pushing to the public properly. The album has heavy features on it from Indianapolis artists (Murph G, Aron Easton, Tiggy, Mack Timothy, Mula, Young Zo, Pheddi) and many more. I believe this is all part of the plan described in our earlier reading. At first listen, the entire project as a whole definitely sounds updated and "with the times" in terms of production and song structure. All of the beats are quality and the song topics are clear. Sonic-ally, the mixing is good but the entire project sounds low def. This may be a result of sending me an early copy to review but I did notice that the "LIFE" is somewhat taken out of each song due to the muddy quality.
The first song I checked out was Pool Party ft (Murph G and Mula), an ode to the party that we all love the most with bathing suits and barbecue. I really liked the beat and it really set the tone as far as hooks go on the project. That is one thing you will notice that each hook on the project is TOP NOTCH. There are multiple songs and the 808s mixed with the fun hook set up this song to be a single from the project. I can also see a fun visual a la the Tupac "I Get Around" type of feel for this record. It is a little over mixed, with the highs throughout the song but overall I enjoyed the listen. The next record that stood out to me was the R&B feel record "Vibe" feat Aron Easton and Tiggy. This record is a BANGER and immediately jumps out at you with it's song structure and vocals. Aron Easton and Tiggy sound comparable (in skill) to Trey Songz and August Alsina on this record. That is all I could think of as I listened to the tune. The hook again rules this song where feeling the energy and vibe is the main focus. Most of the beats throughout have synth, 808s, and some form of hi hat or snare. There is no mistake that this is a TRAP record all the way through. Another song that I really enjoyed was "Trap Buffet ft Mack Timothy and Murph G. This song's infectious hook and the mixture of Ray and Murph's vocals make this a feel good trap record in the mold of "Broccoli" from D.R.A.M. Most of the verses on the song have the bravado and content that you would expect from a trap record but the melodies they create throughout change the tune and feel. "Trap Buffet" is no different. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish the hooks and verses but that makes the records even more listenable in my opinion. As I moved through the album I really loved the record "All BS" fe Young Zo and Haasan. Both of the featured artists on this record had stand out verses and took the album back in a traditional direction. Unorthodox and often times outright different, Ray Bandz has a lot of range in the way he arranges his work and this record doesn't sound like any other song on the album. The following record and his anticipated single "TBH" has been a local hit for some time now. I believe he included it on this album because it deserves more ears and sound wise it still fits. It's draggy vocals and deep bass make for a record that has the potential to turn the clubs energy around completely, similar to songs "Back that Thang Up" and "Knuck If You Buck". (If you are from the 90s golden era lol) Mack Timothy, an African artist on his "Bandz Squad" label also delivers several noteworthy appearances on this album but the best is on the song "3ways". You really get the different dance-hall feel from his vocals and the whispering in the hook is infectious. There are not any credits as far as producers on my copy but I want to shout out the producer on this record because it stands out and is really a solid track to go along with the vocals. The last 5 records could have probably been left off of the project completely as they seem like filler tracks compared to the rest of the project. This was the only drawback to the project for me.
Overall, I really liked the effort that Ray Band$ put into his latest project. You can tell by the way he puts his songs together and the subject matter, that Ray Band$ continues to show growth as an artist. This is a really solid effort and his first full length project in some time. The one thing that sticks with you is how different each song is and how well the hooks are put together. I anticipate a large response to 2 possibly 3 tracks from this project single wise. I would have liked to have heard a mastered copy, as again most of the songs are muddied and the quality of the song would really stand out with the proper mastering. The quality of the mixing is there and the songs are updated so you are left to wonder "WHAT IF" as you listen to how good the songs COULD be. Finally. what's left to be answered is the question of "what's next?" for Ray Band$. He has entertained meetings with Roc Nation and Konvict Music and also anticipates putting out more music this year. At the end of the day, I like "The New Gucci", I will listen to it again and I look forward to seeing him continue to climb and stay consistent in his grind!
I give this album 3.6 out of 5 bands.
Check out the new single “Ya Ya Ya" from Midwest Artist Lil Tae YCM titled . This artist is on the rise and expect to see the song in many outlets. Download and give feedback.