If there’s one coping mechanism that can help someone navigate through years worth of bottled-up trauma, it’s therapeutic conversation. Though some are better at expressing their emotions than others, the pain and frustration always find a way to surface. Wakai has not only experienced the duality between earnest reflection and brash projection, but explored the different ways he and his close ones cope on his latest album Some People Scream, Some People Talk.
Much like the Baton Rouge rapper’s previous efforts, Some People clouds itself in weed smoke, using the substance as both a crutch and an outlet to deal with everything life has thrown his way. “Inhaling my jane life a wonderful thing / When you can obtain the concept of it / But you restrained and feel like puppet,” Wakai raps on the title track. The high helps mellow and accept the pain inflicted by new funerals held every month but also stands in stark contrast to his observation of how others cope — typically through screaming or brushing it off.
While the album’s title compares screaming and talking, Wakai spends most of it doing the latter. His songs evoke a constant feeling of helplessness, but he never succumbs to it. Instead, Wakai embraces his struggle, making it transparent enough to show that even his judgement gets clouded in tense moments like on the aptly titled “Frustrated.” Neither the quaint instrumental nor Wakai’s subdued vocals would make it seem like he’s hiding his pain, but brief moments of light hint at his optimism (“My soul was cloudy, my cousin tickle my heart / She gave me laughter this new chapter is a work of art”).
No matter how hopeful Wakai tries to be, the crushing reality of death continues to haunt him. “Nature Sings,” backed by a solemn set of strings and airy drums, acts as an obituary for both time and trauma. Wakai uses his own music as relief before referencing Kanye West’s “Last Call” in the hook, substituting alcohol for all “the trauma involved.” Wakai reflects on the roots of people’s problems as well as his own ability to deal with stress, likening himself to his father in the second verse.
Some People may show Wakai’s more timid and secluded side, but he feels more at ease when he enlists guests for the ride. “‘05 Honda’ brings out a calmer, cooler version of him that showcases his love for vintage cars even though the opening skit sees a woman admonish him for using a hand-me-down. The Frank Sativa-assisted “Bittersweet” tracks the different sides of Baton Rouge Wakai grew up in, showing that one can grow in the city, but can also be a victim of the violence and racism that surrounds it. Despite the heavier subject matter, Wakai’s tone balances hope and despair, praying that the city can outgrow its darker corners.
Optimism and pessimism are the two largest driving forces of the album. If nothing else, Wakai tries to see better days but the paranoia and distrust that comes with living in Baton Rouge sometimes weigh him down. Wakai compiles and dissects all these different aspects of the city on “November,” the penultimate track. “While I hibernate in November in life I’m sponge / I write despite the times I felt I never won,” Wakai raps as the song opens. Although he’s still in the early stages of his career with several wins under his belt already, it’s easy to tell why he can’t accept these victories when the world he grew up in isn’t growing at the same pace as him.
Some People isn’t an album with a clear-cut happy ending. The self-critical closer “Hard Headed” somberly ends the album with Wakai debating the effectiveness of his stubbornness and how he still tries to grow in spite of it. He also understands that life doesn’t offer much closure, and that evolving and moving forward is the best way to deal with his past trauma.
Some People meditates on Wakai’s life and upbringing just as much as it focuses on other people’s inability to deal with their inner turmoil. There also isn’t much in the way of answers, but Wakai makes it clear he isn’t offering any. It’s a venting session meant to assess his emotions rather than answer every failing he’s had to reckon with.