Mike Will Made-It’s influence on modern hip-hop is undeniable. It’s also impossible to ignore because he shouts out his name on almost every track he produces. You’ve heard his production (and his name) on tracks with Migos, Juicy J, Rae Sremmurd, Lil Yachty, The Weeknd, and many, many more. “Ransom 2” is Mike Will Made-It’s first studio album (the ‘2’ being a reference to the mixtape also called “Ransom”) and on it you hear Mike Will Made-It’s signature sound with many of the artists he has worked with in the past.
On an album full of guest appearances, it comes down to who you like to hear rap. If you’re into Trap there is Trap, if you’re into mumble rappers there are mumble rappers, if you’re into more traditional rappers there are those as well. Much of the album features simple, repetitive beats. Tracks like “WYO”, “Burnin” and “Bars of Soap” get old quickly. In the case of “Bars of Soap” the song just misses; Swae Lee has a silly verse made un-enjoyable by the repetitive synth sound. It grates as does the constant use of the Trap high hat sound throughout the album. That behind said, the familiarity of the Mike Will sound makes even his most repetitive beats somewhat listenable.
Occasionally Mike branches out and tries a song that’s a bit different. To be certain the beat is still undeniably a Mike Will beat, but it has a little something to set it apart. The first song on the album, “On the Come Up”, is the ultimate example. The sample of Osvaldo Golijov’s epic vocals right at the beginning of “Ransom 2” implies that it is going to be an exceptional album. The album does not live up to that vocal sample, but that would have been an almost impossible task.
Although the album doesn’t achieve classic status, there are plenty of solid tracks including the first Future song, “Razzle Dazzle” that I’ve ever listened to and liked. “Perfect Pint” is a star-studded affair featuring Kendrick Lamar, Gucci Mane and Rae Sremmurd. It’s a alright song that will get too much credit because Kendrick is on it. Pharrell Williams appears on “Aries”, a song that offered a couple of surprises. First I thought I was enjoying sing-rap for the first time but then I realized it was Pharrell. I’ve been listening to him for years so that doesn’t count as sing-rap (right?!). The second surprise/realization was that Pharell is also the “other” featured artist on the song. On “Aries” he’s listed as Pharrell and Station Wagon P, the latter a clear play on a different Pharrell moniker (Skateboard P).
The nicest surprise on the album came from a relative unknown. Eearz, an artist signed to Ear Drummers, does his thing on “Emotions Unlocked.” Hopefully he’ll have a project of his own out soon.
“Ransom 2” does not dazzle nor does it take you to too many different places. Most of the album sounds exactly as you would expect it to sound which in this case happens to not be a bad thing. Mike Will is the hip-hop sound of the moment. If you enjoy that sound then you will enjoy this album.