Father has established himself as a power player in Atlanta’s independent Hip Hop scene. The rapper, producer and Awful Records founder has helped foster the careers of Playboi Carti, iLoveMakonnen, ABRA, and more. Despite an undisputed work ethic, his own music has largely lacked range. On his previous albums, he’s mostly stuck to rapping about partying over minimal beats. Awful Swim, his collaboration with Adult Swim and first release since signing to RCA, is more of the same. Despite being generally amusing and the occasional deviation from formula, Awful Swim repeatedly rehashes the same perversion and feels longer than its short length.
Awful Swim opens with “Mirror, Mirror,” a spacey account of a debaucherous night. Father nonchalantly raps, “Sipping on drank, She suck my dick ’til my Gucci belt stank.” The hypnotic, disorienting production accentuates each punchline and pop culture reference. This is Father at his best — not trying too hard but still keeping the listener engaged with wit.
Unfortunately, this vibe is repeated on numerous tracks with slight adjustments. While “Boosie Fade” is a bit more low-fi but ultimately forgettable, “Passion & Dogma” has a droning quality that’s exhausting. And when Father tries to produce a banger on “Thotnite,” he wastes the catchy mid-tempo beat with a painfully monotonous hook: “Thotnite, Thotnite, Thotnite, Thotnite Thotnite, Thotnite, Thotnite, Thotnite.”
Despite lackluster filler, Awful Swim is salvaged by some interesting guest appearances and a handful of standout tracks. Longtime collaborator and fellow labelmate ABRA delivers an enthralling spoken-word hook on “Lotto.” “On One” has the highly charismatic rapper Rico Nasty making cocky proclamations like. “I’m a typhoon on these bitches that wanna ride my wave.” When another artist brings some energy and personality, Father’s sleepy delivery isn’t so numbing.
A good chunk of the project is produced by up-and-comer Meltycanon. These tracks stand out for their warm textures and lush details. The Final Fantasy-inspired “Sephiroth” has layers of soft flutes and xylophones that create a rich backdrop for Father’s boasts. On the other hand, “Killer” has a dreamy, off-kilter vibe that deviates from the typical debauchery. Over airy harp-strings, the Atlanta rapper gets surprisingly romantic as he describes his infatuation. He indulges in this oddball persona, making for one of the album’s more playful moments. Meanwhile, “Only You” is the perfect encapsulation of Father’s artistic style. Though he’s detailing yet another night of hard partying, the track’s understated groove elevates the song. Awful Swim closes with “Wine” — an upbeat surprise. Featuring Meltycanon as a guest vocalist, “Wine” is melodic, soulful, and refreshingly melodic.
Like much of his catalog, Father’s latest release often toes the line between nonchalance and laziness. Despite sometimes being a snooze, Awful Swim is ultimately saved by other artists who bring some color to his nonstop party.