The Review: FSB seeks to make his mark on debut project – First Impression

Since Kanye West’s game changing 2008 album, 808s and Heartbreak, emotional lyrical content has gradually become a mainstay in hip-hop. A direct contrast to the hyper-masculine hip-hop of the late 1990s and early 2000s, rappers today are often seen speaking openly about their vulnerabilities: loneliness, heartbreak, anxiety, drug abuse. As far back as 10-12 years ago, rappers like Kanye, Kid Cudi and Lil Wayne went against the grain and created a space where it was acceptable to infuse deeply introspective lyrics covering personal subjects other than girls, guns and money in their songs – and this paved the way for a new class of hip hop heroes like Drake and Lil Uzi Vert to take a markedly different approach to lyricism than the icons of decades past.

This age of vulnerability in rap has found its way to homeland shores, with the youth embracing it and telling their distinctly Nigerian stories fused with Western influences. Enter, Femi Shitta-Bey, known more popularly by his moniker – and initials – FSB, a member of British-Nigerian lifestyle collective, Family and Friends. Adopting the ‘sad boy rap’ style heavily associated with Drake, the 23-year old has delivered expressive rap cuts like ‘Misbehave’, ‘Feelings’ and ‘Get it Fast’ over the past year and a half. In a bid to give us a real glimpse into his mind, he offers up his debut project, First Impression – a 14-track tape highlighting the emotional rollercoaster his life seemed to be on at the time. ‘I was kinda overwhelmed by all aspects of life, fairly depressed to be honest. I’ll say this has been the most sensitive & personal period of my life, so First Impression is just to reveal where I’m at’, he tells me.

The project opens up with ‘Confessions’, a deeply pensive soliloquy – as the title suggests – which finds FSB recounting tales of failed friendships and relationships with people who switched up on him. ‘When you stab my back I see it as a term of murder/Niggas tryna talk to me and I would not discuss further’, he assertively declares, letting his ex-acquaintances know forgiveness is not on the table. On ‘Paid My Debt’, he lets us know he’s earned the right to what’s in store for him because he’s worked hard. Over rising synths and scatting hi-hats and snares courtesy of $hadow, he raps, ‘No regrets/I can’t break a sweat/I done paid my debt’. 

In true ‘sad boy’ fashion, lovelorn themes are littered throughout the project. ‘Lydia’s Interlude (Girls These days)’ sees an emotionally drained FSB glumly unfolding his feelings to a love interest who toys with his emotions. ‘When you gonna let me know/That you’re trying to take it slow/Cos I’ve been down the same road/We’ve been doing this for long’, he morosely intones, questioning her why on she keeps leading him on. On ‘Feelings’, he taps in fellow collective member, Dimss, for another one-sided dialogue, narrating how he got played by a former flame. Elsewhere on ‘Take Your Time’ (a personal favourite), FSB is found telling tales of – yet another – past love interest who up and left him. ‘How you gonna leave me here I’m feeling blue/ Baby girl don’t do me like that’, his auto-tune heavy voice wails out to his lover for a second chance. Hopefully, we can’t relate.

Taking a break from the downtrodden and broken-hearted themes, FSB stops pining long enough to reveal his more savage side. For ‘2 Bitches’, he taps in Traplanta frontrunner KA$h, and the pair trade bar-heavy verses on their hedonistic, polygamous lifestyle. Drafting in rapper $odaman, he flexes his menacing persona on ‘Push’. ‘Keep it pushing/I done took your girl I swear I wasn’t looking’, he candidly raps, letting his opp know it’s best to swallow this L and move on. The game is the game, baby. 

As a whole, First Impression gives us an initial look into FSB’s mind, showing the inner workings of a young male dealing with his emotions in his own way. ‘You know, some things my pride won’t let me admit in person, but imma put it in this music’, he states at the intro of ‘Yea I Still Do’; a 4-minute confession of the unhealthy coping mechanisms – ‘Pop a xanny when I don’t know what to think’ – he adopted to deal with his trauma over the years. Music serves a myriad of purposes to different people. For FSB, it’s a means of carthasis – a way to channel all the negative energy as he unpacks the entire trauma from futile relationships and friendships. Just like Drake, Kid Cudi and others before him, FSB’s goal is for the forlorn introspection in his music to dually serve as a form of self-treatment as well as an escape for others. He’s trying to sing his way to his complete emotional healing, and maybe yours too. 

Listen to the tape below.

Makua Adimora

Makua has forgotten more Young Thug lyrics than you'd probably ever know. Tweet your fav horror movies at her @coldasmax_

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