Reviewing Lancey Foux – LIFE IN HELL Album.
Lancey’s maximalist magnum opus feels like a vortex into his own chaotically stunning universe.
An up-and-comer turned trailblazer, Lancey has grown past the “Carti clone” allegations and morphed into an underground trap titan with an international audience. Whereas most UK rappers never manage to make it big outside of the Kingdom, Lancey is one of the few that has won over American fans and converted UK rap loyalists to his “Americanised” rage trap sound.
Since his 2019 blow-up album, “FRIEND OR FOUX”, Lancey has been evolving his sound and aesthetic to lead up to something great. His 2021 albums, “LIVE. EVIL” and “FIRST DEGREE”, showed great potential, but ultimately felt like a warm-up to something larger-than-life. This latest project, “LIFE IN HELL”, isn’t just larger-than-life, it’s practically its own dimension.
The album’s opener, “SPIRIT OF X2C”, feels like the opening of a portal. The harp-like vocals and space-traversing production are beautiful at the moment, but you know that Lancey is going to drag you down into something much more unexpected and chaotic, like the calm before a storm. Fortunately, that’s exactly what he does.
From “DID IT AGAIN” onwards, the album ragefully distorts between being a stunning supernova and a destructive black hole, and actually, this is probably the best thing about the album. As each song starts, you’re not sure if it’s going to be an autotuned heartstring tugger or a synth heavy rampage about pills and designer fashion.
“PENDULUM” is one of the songs that fall into the heartfelt side of the album and is absolutely a major highlight of the tracklist. The song masterfully samples Seal’s classic, “Kiss From A Rose”, transforming it from a fairly traditional love ballad to an acid fuelled lucid dream. Lancey’s hallucinating melody and rhythm also feel like a pendulum swaying from side to side, making it even more surreal.
However, despite all the praise “LIFE IN HELL” deserves, unfortunately, it’s a flame that burns a little too bright too soon, as once the album gets past “PENDULUM”, things start to drag. As much as Lancey wants to pull off a maximalist extravaganza in a similar vein to Travis Scott’s “Rodeo”, the shock, intensity, and hype just can’t last for 22 songs. In comparison, the extended version of “Rodeo” was 8 songs shorter than that.
Although this flaw might take away from the flow of the album, it takes little away from the quality of the songs individually. “TO HARD TO KILL” is a catchy and soothing rollercoaster to heaven and “TRY AGAIN” essentially embodies the stunning supernova quality of the album, despite its simplicity.
The end of the album feels like reaching the core of this chaotic 22-track universe, to find Lancey’s vulnerability and deeper consciousness at the center. In the last three tracks, the rapper opens his heart and talks about family, wanting to maintain success, and his want to stop relying on drugs. “WAKE UP/ I’M ALIVE”, the last track, closes the album with Lancey essentially chanting an affirmation to himself as a flurry of instruments cascade around his voice; “who’s going to design the life I want? ME!”, thus ending “LIFE IN HELL” on an optimistic look into Lancey’s bright future.
Score/Excellent: LIFE IN HELL starts as beautifully as it ends, it’s just that both points are separated by a track list length that could’ve been trimmed down. However, this album has few to no skips and an aesthetic that’ll make you yearn for a second listen. For its chaotic nature and unique style, this is excellent.
[I rank albums on a scale of: Poor, Mediocre, Good, Excellent, and Outstanding]
Written By Jake Campbell