This iLoveMakonnen article was written by Mac Gushanas, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse.
One question seems to be asked at a certain point about an artist who fits a niche despite a couple of massive hits: can they actually sustain that level of brief success? That question is starting to be posed about iLoveMakonnen, the nasally Atlanta rapper-singer who has found contemporaries like Young Thug, Lil Yachty and others stepping into the spotlight he once occupied. His latest EP, ‘Drink More Water 6’, only further entrenches him in his signature sound. Those who love his sing-rapping and offbeat wordplay will find something to enjoy on this release, but others might start moving on to the next big thing.
It has to be said that Makonnen doesn’t really care all that much about the aforementioned question. Braggadocio of all kinds dominates the EP: his drug dealing proficiency on ‘Sellin’, his draw with women on ‘Back Again’, and his continued global relevance on ‘Live for Real’ (“Don’t speak their language/ But they know I’m the man”).
Makonnen constantly flaunting himself works at times, but the generic trap beats on the more aggressive tracks suffer. His choruses can get repetitive (‘UWONTEVA’), and his high-pitched voice sounds awkward alongside bass-heavy and sinister tracks about how he still sells drugs despite his fame (‘Pushin’’). Makonnen attained popularity because his weird peculiarities were able to enter the mainstream, and that creativeness is lost on tracks like these.
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Where Makonnen works best is when he lets his guard down, typically in regards to romance. On ‘Want You’, he is extremely sincere and honest about what he wants from a woman over a bouncy, playful beat. Then, as he bemoans his lover for constantly lying on ‘Turn Off the Lies’, the beat alternates from a darker, industrial sound to a Jamie xx-inspired dance beat. It’s the project’s high point and suggests Makonnen should steer more towards this kind of openness over a myriad of productions rather than tired bragging and confidence raps.
There’s no features on ‘Drink More Water 6’, as repeated often on ‘Solo’. On that track, Makonnen feels more than capable of carrying his own without the help of a Drake or the like. He probably won’t ever reach the heights of ‘Tuesday’ or ‘I Don’t Sell Molly No More’, but iLoveMakonnen and his brand have found a stable place in rap. He’s not the next megastar to come out of a SoundCloud account nor does he need to be.
‘Drink More Water 6’ is out now via Warner Bros. Records and OVO Sound.