It once seemed his 2019 hit ‘Big Drip’ might prove a fluke, but Fivio Foreign is no one-hit wonder: the 32-year-old has become New York’s leading drill star. When he emerged, his city’s drill scene was gaining attention for the late Pop Smoke‘s high-octane party classics, with Fivio the spritely newcomer. He’s since found his feet in spectacular fashion.
Having said that Foreign reminded him of a young Jay-Z, Ye – the artist formerly known as Kanye West – executively produced this debut album. And even after the divisive nature of his 10th album, 2021’s ‘DONDA’, which Fivio featured on, Ye has helped the younger charge find his greatness. Admittedly, though, saccharine lead single ‘City of Gods’ – which features Ye with Alicia Keys and also appeared on ‘Donda’ – seems a little out of place here.
Stellar opener ‘On God’, featuring on-the-rise rapper KayCyy, sees biblical inspiration meet an enthralling chorus. Over an astral instrumental, we hear some of Fivio’s greatest bars to date. Coming from a place of passion and clear thoughtfulness, he delivers one of the best intro tracks of the year, despite some questionable grammar: “I’m a self-made it, Grammy-nominated / Opps know I’m not to play with, n**** / How I’m not your favourite?”.
Elsewhere, Foreign teams up with his Brooklyn drill ally, Migos‘ Quavo, for the energetic collaborations ‘Through The Fire’ (yes, very punny, but this is completely different to the stunner of a debut single Ye released in 2003) and ‘Magic City’. The latter is the best of these transparent attempts at another huge drill club track to rival ‘Big Drip’ or Pop and Quavo’s ‘Shake The Room’.
The hardest collaboration to fathom is the Ne-Yo-assisted ‘Love Songs’, on which the Vegas crooner sings an interpolation of his 2006 smash ‘So Sick’. Fivio reiterates the original track’s storyline of a lovesick man via a funny attempt at a half-sung hook: “Girl, leave me alone / ‘Cause you’re nothing that I need / I won’t answer the phone”. Despite another great verse, the track seems comical, with a random automated vocal added behind the piano sample and unrefined chorus. It would be a mystery that the song made it to ‘B.I.B.L.E’., were it not for the annoying, current drill trend for poorly-sampled pop tracks.
Yet’s Fivio Foreign’s delivery remains pin-sharp throughout the album, proving that with a few inspired beats, he can produce utter greatness. With its drill influences and eclecticism, this is perhaps the record ‘Donda’ could have been, proving that Fivio has plenty of scope to transcend drill culture.
Release date: April 8th
Record label: Columbia Records