While North America really hasn’t been putting out much music, the UK has been on a run. If you’re not listening to some of what’s coming from out there, you’re slippin’ heavy. From 2015 onwards, it’s been a steady climb. One of the artists who’s been a part of that climb is Fredo. I don’t know if it’s because he raps slow enough for North Americans to understand his lyrics (regardless of the accent) or if we gravitate to the content of his music, but people over here rock with this stuff. Since I haven’t seen this album getting enough love, I thought I’d share my takes on it. Here’s my album review of Money Can’t Buy Happiness by Fredo.
When this song first started I wasn’t sure about it because the flow seemed off beat but once the bass and drums came in, his flow fit a pocket I didn’t originally hear in the beat. This in itself let me know that Fredo’s taking the rap game seriously because now he’s experimenting in the art of making music itself. I don’t think I could have imagined Fredo on a beat like this 3 years ago. Also, I’ll be real, this song changed for me once I realized he was saying “I remember the first wetting” and not “the first wedding”. I thought my guy was telling us a story of how he became The Godfather but nah he was reflecting on the first time a man had to get stabbed…
Back to Basics
This one right here?! Favourite song on the album for sure. This pocket Fredo went into on this beat (big ups to Dave, you surprised me with this beat) is mean yo. His voice can be fairly monotone to some people but on this one, the flow is just too strong to hate yo. I really don’t see too many people really disliking this one once they hear it. Especially that whole section with the “shh”. Only a couple mans can talk like that and it hold true. None of them mans are me though.
Yeah this one’s a banger! One of them ones that you can play with the mandem before you make moves for the night. Or at the afterparty or something you know? It’s a song that you can’t help but bop to. It’s a Fredo in his braggadocious bag which is usually an enjoyable version of Fredo honestly.
Ready ft. Summer Walker
This one was a very risky song to me. I thought to myself if this guy is going to sample “Ready or Not” by the Fugees, it doesn’t matter if Summer Walker is singing on the hook…you have to really go in with these verses. I wouldn’t say it necessarily lives up to that hype but he got introspective on this album and had a conversation with God in the verse about his sins and questioned if he would be allowed into heaven for the things he’s done in his past. It’s worth a listen for sure.
Money Talks ft. Dave
I can see this one being a fan favourite whenever things open back up. This is another beat that Dave made for Fredo that slaps. Fredo definitely did his thing but the Dave verse (I have some bias)? The man said:
Old ting try flex on man last week with a dead baecation
Baby, I go Heathrow more than your man goes petrol station
To add stuff like this along with Fredo’s big stepper rap, makes for a really enjoyable record.
Do You Right
This is probably the first song on this album that I’m not really big on. It definitely fits the whole “driving with shorty in the car at night” kinda vibe but it wasn’t a track that excited me that much.
Burner On Deck ft. Young Adz & Pop Smoke
People are gonna hate me for this one but I wasn’t big on this record either. I know, it’s a posthumous Pop Smoke record so how am I going to hate but I just wasn’t feeling it. However, I know a lot of people that like this record. I’m just not big on Young Adz voice on some tracks. He can be a hit or miss for me. Plus side with this song is I don’t think the features were forced. It sounds like an organic collaboration, but it’s not really one of the songs I regularly go back to.
This is one of those tracks that I think retired roadmans will gravitate to. It’s very reminiscent of some of the aspects that come with being in the game. Some people will look at it as him romanticizing crime but I looked at it as Fredo painting a picture of what his life was like before rap.
Blood in My Eyes
Fredo on a Hozier sample? Dave really got this guy rapping on some different beats! I can’t say I ever expected something like this. This is some more introspective rap from Fredo and definitely one of the stronger songs on the album. He reflects early in the first verse on the vanity of the relationships he has with some people and not being able to know if the love is genuine. He goes on to say:
You can’t know the feeling
They don’t love you, they love you for reasons
Do you love me or love that I’m freezing?
That’s real and he delivered it in a way that makes you feel it, every time you listen to the song.
This another good record with Fredo retelling the story of being kicked out his mom’s place for selling drugs and moving in with his aunt. He paints a picture of life on the road and the repercussions of his interactions with his aunt and his friend’s dad who were both addicted to the drugs he was selling. I don’t think it’s a song that will blow people away, but the realness in what he’s saying will be what keeps you listening until the end.
What Can I Say
Heavy outro song to this album as it ties back to the pain in his life. He uses the outro to bring things back full circle to the theme of the album and reflect on the losses of two of his close friends. In the same year that he had his daughter, he lost someone close to him. Life will give and take like that and you can’t control it. At the time of a loss, all we try to do is cope, hence why he admits on the song that he thinks he “buys all this ice, to cover the pain”. Cover the wounds and try to get up to move forward. End of the day the pleasures of life don’t always equip you to move past your trauma and I think that’s a realization Fredo comes to by the end of the album.
Overall this is actually a much better project than I expected. I saw glimpses of this on his previous album, Third Avenue but he really took the best aspects of his debut album and levelled it up here. Teaming up with Dave and having him exec produce the album was a great idea. The timing of the piano additions to songs like “Money Talks” was perfect. It really added more to enjoy about the song even after the verses stopped.
Fredo really expounded on his reality and the fact that money can’t buy happiness, not even at this stage in his career. For every verse highlighting the luxuries of his lifestyle, there were verses highlighting the pain in it. His reality is that there isn’t an amount of money that can help him escape the pain of losing loved ones, the repercussions of things he’s done in his past or in understanding that he can’t save everyone. If I’m being real, this album held it down during the first few months of the year yo. Eleven songs is a solid length for a Fredo album because it doesn’t dilute the content. Taking a chance and dropping his project during the pandemic ended up being the right call. It’s some of Fredo’s best work to date.