Baton Rouge’s Fredo Bang forged his fame on unflinching honesty about his ongoing street activities, a wry and uncensored sense of humor, unabashed vocals, and an unexpectedly discerning taste in production. But his first full-length effort, 2020’s Most Hated, didn’t quite match the creative heft anchoring his prolific mixtape run.
A host of life changes in the interim — including the death of a close friend, the birth of his second child, and fresh legal issues — serve as the basis of sophomore LP Yes, I’m Sad, which proves Bang is personally unchanged but remains on an upward trajectory creatively.
Not all the punches landed on Most Hated, but when he was being himself, it was clear just how badly the Def Jam signee yearned to earn his artistic stripes. On Yes, I’m Sad, the 27-year-old rapper employs the infectious hooks, oddball sense of humor, and graphic descriptions of street life that made him a rising star. With DJ Chose and Hardbody B-Eazy taking the lion’s share of production duties, the album’s sound is similarly trap dominant interspersed with unexpected orchestral production elements.
From the introspective title track that opens the album, it’s clear that Fredo Bang is ready to draw heavily on his personal experience for this project, shedding the plug and play material from his debut effort. In fact, the best moments on Yes, I’m Sad come when Fredo is explicitly addressing his personal life.
Whether it’s reflecting on his inability to leave the street lifestyle that he’s known since youth on trap anthem “Come Thru,” addressing the murder trial of his close friend and frequent collaborator YNW Melly on “Free Melly,” or the appropriately toxic love story told in “Sideways” featuring NLE Choppa, the Baton Rouge spitter gets pretty deep.
For all the discussion of deadly serious life topics, Yes, I’m Sad manages to preserve the off-the-wall humor that, like his colleague Kevin Gates, makes Fredo stand out in a crowd of MCs. It’s on display on “Tina Turner,” which goes from cookie cutter to classic with the – perhaps unintentionally – hilarious: “I always end up lonely, every time I feel I need her/ But, love got her doin’ it, R.I.P. to Tina.” It also shows up in “Not My Ho/Keep It PimpN,” when he employs the following tongue twister: “I’m fucking and you fucking too, I say, so?/ A ho gon’ be a ho, just not my ho.”
It does appear, though, that Fredo still struggles with the editing aspect of putting together a studio project. While the first half of Yes, I’m Sad flows seamlessly, the second half is stacked with features from Rick Ross, Treety, Rob49 and the aforementioned NLE Choppa. The lineup is a showcase in Southern Hip Hop, but it might’ve been wise to spread the star power around a bit.
After a decade in the industry, it appears Fredo Bang is at last finding a balance between his mixtape persona and commercial studio efforts. The result is an easy improvement over his debut as he manages his roster of collaborators, his at-times turbulent personal life, and the mercurial flair that makes him a standout in a room of legends.
RELEASE DATE: January 19, 2024
RECORD LABEL: Def Jam/Se Lavi
Listen to Yes, I’m Sad below: