As the internet’s most popular rapper right now, Ice Spice is well-versed on what it took to get “Munch (Feelin’ U)” into the mainstream; when combined with the use of unique phrases, her skittered agile flow is free to emphasize and pronunciate at her own accord. Ice Spice is undoubtedly on the rise; the question is whether or not she can remain in the spotlight. Her debut EP Like…? arrives with an eye-roll and answer of, “obviously.”
From the cheeky dismissive bars sprinkled throughout the tracklist to the provocative title and cover art, everything about Like..? doubles-down on the artistic qualities and signatures that first catalyzed Ice Spice’s overnight success, and asserts she will not accept one hit wonder status no matter how many times detractors try to box her in. Her affinity for wrapping common sensibilities in clever verses and delivering them like her own discovery is just one of the things that makes Ice Spice one of the hottest young rappers in the game. “The party not lit / then I’d rather not go,” she explains in a single rush of breath on “Bikini Bottom.” The sentiment is easily understood; so much so, that Ice Spice’s lyricism can be dismissed for its simplicity; but when push comes to shove, most don’t have the audacity to verbalize their wants and needs in the same unapologetic way that the Bronx-native does with finesse.
The rhythmic excellence of producer RIOTUSA and Ice Spice comes to a peak on “Actin A Smoochie.” Just like with the term “munch,” the rapper lays claim over the use of “smoochie” above a Jersey club rendition of Tierra Whack’s “Cutting Onions.” By bringing colloquial phrases from the Bronx to the front of pop culture, Ice Spice instigates the listener to inquire, to respond to the song in search of a definition or source. After having undergone a metamorphosis from R&B to drill-pop, the sample for “Actin a Smoochie” is nearly unrecognizable; Ice Spice takes over the sentiment and tone, drawing out the pop-y elements of “Cutting Onions” to suit the hype of her own track. The alternation between the kick and snare on “In Ha Mood” similarly showcases Ice Spice’s curiosity for pop – if TikTok is to be believed, she may even be on a PinkPanthress song.
A consistent stream of signature phrases, emotes, and dance moves further builds Ice Spice’s persona. At the same time, she adapts to the response of her own image by making mastered tracks out of fan’s internet memes. With “Princess Diana” Ice Spice lets the people of the internet know that they have been heard. At first facetious, the comparison between Ice Spice and the former Princess of Wales started out as a TikTok trend; but with her single covers made out of selfies, colloquial lyrics, and a down-to-earth attitude, Ice Spice proves she is a princess of the people. RIOTUSA splices bass-heavy production with the frantic plucks of a repetitive guitar riff; together, the two capitalize on public opinion and successfully insert Ice Spice into one of the most famous pop culture narratives of our time. In some ways, Spice is studying the Doja Cat playbook, without the edge lord beginnings.
Where Doja’s breakout hit “Moo!” is a satirical novelty, Ice Spice’s “Munch (Feelin’ U”) exists as an genuine expression of experience. “You thought I was feeling you?” is said with equal parts contempt and shock; by the time Spice hits the next few verses, she refuses to even address the subject of her rap directly – saying aloud to no one in particular, “he ate it for lunch.” Now, the problem is not with “being an eater,” but with the way Ice Spice’s partners make assumptions about her feelings on the basis of a relationship that she clearly states is purely physical.
On Like…? Ice Spice proves the extent to which she influences pop culture. As she attaches herself to famous instrumental samples and figures, the narrative that surrounds the likes of Princess Diana or Gangsta Boo are reconfigured to include and consider Ice Spice’s perspective, making her a trendsetter for Gen-Z and beyond.
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