At first glance, one could see Justiine as just another pretty face. Digging into her social media uncovers a plethora of well-lit photos of a smiling, fresh faced, stylish girl seemingly enjoying and coasting through life in Atlanta. There’s hardly a microphone in sight. No pictures of her and her posse squad deep clutching glasses of liquor, no gold teeth, no recent videos of her on stage. Without knowing anything about Justiine, it would be hard to even have a single expectation of what she might sound like.
And then you hit play. How did something so aggressively controlling of a mic come out of such a friendly looking face? Enter God, Save the Queen. This is rap. If you want something to sing along to? Look elsewhere. She wastes no time getting into one of the standouts of the project, “I Gotta Go.” It’s a good sign of her style — like most things coming out of the South these days it has the trunk rattling bass and that overall trap sound. Heads will nod. She spits, “I have to show my immaculate sound, and I got dough, I’m just stacking it now, I have to know, I cannot guess, that is apparent, why would I stress? I am the best, bitch I’m the best of the best…”.
Justiine’s flow is precise—always on beat, clear delivery of words, and in true school fashion her rhymes are full of braggadocio. She’s cocky, in that battle rap kind of way, but minus the excessive profanity, violence, and complex metaphors and wordplay. “I don’t fraternize with you ordinary birds, I don’t know if you heard your girl is something else, got a whole lot of confidence in one’s self” (off the closing track “Can I Live”). It’s bar after bar of well delivered lyrics, but everything on God, Save the Queen remains an easy listen.
At first it’s refreshing. After all, it’s not every day that a woman doesn’t come across as too girly, materialistic, or lacking in lyrics in this male-dominated Hip Hop world. But then you get into the nitty gritty. Why does Justiine start the vast majority of her bars with the word “I”? “I just go ape shit, rocking that Bape shit” (“Shut Up & Bounce”). “I put every ounce of me inside these lines” (“Selfish”). It’s not just here and there; it’s in every song, most of the time. And a lot, not all, but a lot, of the hooks to the songs are just very repetitively stating the title of the track. Sure, it works, it’s easy to remember and therefore a little bit catchy, but it’s lacking variety and gets tired after a bit (“New Wave” and “What Do U Mean”).
There’s a ton of potential here, and Justiine flexes her lyrical muscle over plenty of trendy sonic trap conceptions. But there’s also a lot of room for growth. As a rookie, more varied subject matter would be welcomed, switching up how she starts her bars (we’ll call it “I” syndrome) and also challenging herself to write more dynamic hooks. But God, Save the Queen is definitely worth a listen.