The West Coast is in the midst of a revitalization, and Buddy is at the forefront of the movement. His new album Harlan & Alondra represents a continuation of the growth that he has shown since his first song back in 2014. It is not unprecedented to see musical growth like Buddy’s. However, it is a pleasant and exciting surprise to see how quickly his sound matured from “Shine,” which came out last year.
On this album, Buddy perfected the sound that he came up with, one that is unique and captivating amongst the crowd. The heavy West Coast influences that he grew up around in Compton are apparent. But it is the little twist that he has added to that historic sound that has made him a force to be reckoned with. When listening to this album, you’re able to understand what has caused Pharrell to cosign the 24 year old Compton native.
From the very first track, Buddy ventures onto an introspective journey in which he delves into his life at different points. On “Real Life S**t,” Buddy gets right into his struggles with trying to deal with the newfound pressures of his fame: trying to provide for his family like had promised before, attempting to balance staying true to himself, trying to make the right decisions with money. The album is actually a perfect intro to the album. It introduced the themes of the project flawlessly.
This album held onto themes of dealing with new situations, as Buddy has come into newfound fame and success from a wild year. On “Shameless,” he is unapologetic in his search for riches and recognition. The humbleness of his usual persona is gone here because in his eyes, and the eyes of myself and others in the music industry, he deserves the fully enjoy the spoils of his hard work. “Hey Up There” is an announcement of his intentions to reach the top of the game. But it also gives a sneak peek into his motivations behind his path for success.
“Give it all to me, more money, money, Can’t tell me nothing
We out here struggling, This why we hustling”
He’s out here working his hardest to make sure he never has to work hard again. This line in the outro of “Hey Up There,” “Granny used to tell me ‘Boy don’t look back'” is a perfect sentiment for Buddy’s mentality in the coming months. The hunger to never go hungry is a powerful thing. It shows that the motivation to avoid something can be just as powerful as the motivation to reach something. On “Trouble on Central,” a funky, late night jam, he airs out his pursuit to get out of South Central. He doesn’t want to get caught up in a trap, continually stuck in where he grew up. He has the ever-evolving urge to spread his wings and achieve the success he has always dreamed of. Now, he is actualizing it in real life.
On Harlan & Alondra, Buddy takes the time to celebrate. With “The Blue” and “Speechless,” he is celebrating newfound love and the feeling of young love. On “Young,” the title is pretty self-explanatory. It is celebrating the idea of youthfulness and lamenting fleeting it is, as well as the importance of cherishing it. With “Black,” Buddy and A$AP Ferg take the time to celebrate the idea of blackness as whole and all the qualities that come with it. It is a full, unapologetic, unfiltered, display of pride in the color black and black people of all kinds. Without a doubt, it is the hardest song on the album. It is a full showcase of their best skills, allowing Buddy to display the bars and lyrical ability that will make him a star.
The entire album does an outstanding job of displaying Buddy’s different talents. He is not just a rapper, as black artists often get pigeon-holed. His singing chops are on full display on “Real Life S**t,” “Shameless,” “Hey Up There,” “Trouble on Central,” and basically every other song. He has a knack for gliding over beats and rhythms with his raps, and then delivering smooth hooks in the same minute. What is most interesting about this album is the sound that he employs. There are distinct West Coast influences, but it is like they’ve been mutated and mixed with Kaytranada’s DNA to create a funky, almost dream-like sound. The production on the album was never boring, giving the listener a dazzling mix of funk, R&B, and West Coast rap elements.
Buddy’s positivity shines through amongst a landscape of darkness. As he rounds the album with “Shine,” his 2017 single, there is a line that will always stick with me. “I know I can’t fail if God testing my faith.” Buddy’s music has an indomitable spirit that is powered by faith, and a hunger to provide for himself and his family. There is no doubt that whatever he cooks up next will be blow everything else out of the water.