Still Standing is the perfect title for Rappin 4-Tay’s latest project. Approaching the quarter century mark in the game, the Bay Area legend still has a platform for his music. On Still Standing 4-Tay doesn’t attempt to win new audiences or prove his relevance, he humbly reflects on his journey.
Still Standing encompasses both sides of Rappin 4-Tay. On one side, it captures the insightful wordsmith who has an amazing way of reflecting. On the other side, it captures an artist who was influenced by Too $hort’s pimpin, and proves that he still has a lot of Bay area game to kick. On tracks like “No Man’s Land” 4-Tay reflects honestly on his mistakes. It’s a theme on the album, where 4-Tay refuses to glorify past prison stints. Instead he focuses on how far he has come, or even how it made his mother feel, while spitting lyrics like “Do what you do but be responsible for your actions.” He delivers honest positive music but does so from the perspective of a man who’s been reformed. Tracks such as “Live 2gether” and “Grew Up in the Ghetto” capture 4-Tay’s evolution from an artist who was put on in high school to a mature father of five. “Other Side” is clearly the best track on the album, where the production meets 4-Tay at his best. It’s a moment like this when it becomes clear why Rappin 4-Tay is still standing.
The pimp game is still in 4-Tay’s arsenal. Look no further than “After the Club is Over” to see Tay in his comfort zone. On “Drip” you see 4-Tay drift into hyphy territory, where he executes the track with class and shows his versatility as an emcee. With all that said, his pimp game has always been much more self-reflective than that of his mentor Too $hort. While “Encore” sounds like it could be coming from strip club speakers in Atlanta, it’s done so tastefully.
The album does have its flaws. The production throughout is generic. “What Kinda Life is That” presents deep content sabotaged by subpar production, with looped samples and cheesy strings heard throughout. 4-Tay also has a handful of hooks that utilize Auto-Tune. While it’s easy to dismiss it as a reach, one has to remember 4-Tay’s relationship with the late great Roger Troutman. So while a pass is awarded, the execution on those specific hooks can still be questioned. Other misses on the project include, “Left my Baby Home” and “Put it On Me.”
While many will debate whether 4-Tay is still relevant, he commendably makes an album where he focuses on his journey and how it has humbled him. One thing for sure is that 4-Tay – who was one of the founders of the Playaz Club – has enjoyed his time there, survived and has grown a lot in the past 20 years.