Willie Da Kid
Naturally, Willie is at his best when spewing the blistering bars that have built his reputation. When rhyming over beats from his AMG boss Don Cannon, he's strongest: the cavernous bounce of the album opener "Thang Back" is the perfect forum for him to talk about his violence-ridden hometown, while the marching band instrumentation and hand claps of "What They Wanna Hear" match Willie's flow like a glove. Album closer "Driven" and "Pressure" are also highlights in the mix: the former sees him asserting his motivation, while the latter matches his rhymes with a trademark contribution from The Runners. Still, as problematic of many teen/early twenties rappers, Willie might have the beat or the chorus, but he fails to provide words of wisdom, or resonant themes to any of these songs - perhaps further a retail extension of his mixtape lineage.
While they're not in spades like one would expect, Willie's still got friends in high places that offer cameos to help him get some mainstream love. The first single, "For The Love Of Money," is star-studded with guest features: Gucci Mane, Bun B [click to read], Flo Rida, Yung Joc, the aforementioned La The Darkman, and Trey Songz on the hook. While Willie has a few questionable lines here ("when y'all was wearing snorkels, I was out snorkeling"), the rest of his verse and everyone else's contributions pick up the slack to create a potentional single. The female-friendly "You" features Bobby Valentino cooing the chorus, while Willie spits simple, but managing rhymes to get the message across.
While Absolute Greatness has potential, it also suffers from a lack of memorable songs. While it's admirable how his own talent and the production keep things from getting boring, there's still not very many songs that help push it over the hump. But tracks like "Splendid!" build hope. Rhyming over the same sample that fellow Michigander J Dilla lifted for De La Soul's "Stakes Is High," Willie shows all sides of his talent by using clever punchlines and beat-riding ability to simultaneously speak on societal ills and spit the braggadocio that he's known for. He wraps up the song with a bridge and hook that pay homage to the original. Songs like this, along with the album's balance between the commercial and the gritty, show that while he's not there quite yet, that Willie's definitely got the ingredients to a noteworthy future.