There are few artists, especially in the underground scene, who are as consistent and stand out quite like BBY GOYARD. Not only does he drop music fairly regularly, but it always has some sort of new style or sounds that no one has used previously, including the Maryland rapper. Not only does he look for ways to disrupt commonalities that arise within the genre itself, but even with the challenging situations he puts himself in with such diverse sounds, he constantly rises to the occasion and destroys every verse he puts out. Beyond this, GOYARD also just always sounds so cool, calm, and collected as if to suggest that even with these completely innovative and unheard-of styles, he’s still looking for something that’s truly going to get him out of his comfort zone.
If you’re a fan of his already, you most likely saw that he dropped a brief mixtape yesterday entitled SYMBIOTE that’s made up of 7 songs as well as an 8th bonus track, extending the run time to almost 14 minutes total. This is the perfect tape to check out if you’re unfamiliar with the rapper because there are quick little tastes of some of his most popular yet obscure sonic choices that really allow you to brush the surface of his styles and pique your interest in order to want to diver further into his discography. What I noticed about this tape was the fact that there are seemingly two sides to it, allowing Lil Shannon to give peeks at his vast range and dexterity.
The first half begins with more hard-hitting, pure Rap tracks that show off some of his impressive and sometimes comical rhymes, which have always been one of the main reasons as to why he had caught my eye in the first place. On the project’s opener “HANDHELDS”, the first 15 seconds suggest that we’re about to be in for a cloudy ballad built with church bells and angelic synths but after the beat drops, horns and heavy bass completely destroy this original sound and GOYARD comes in with loads of aggressiveness, allowing his words to pierce through the busy beat. This same energy is held for the next few songs, as he switches from his normal flows, which are uncharacteristic for anyone else in the industry, to even almost whispering at certain points which is another stylistic choice he has made before that helps him stand out from the crowd even more. On the titular track, haunting, hastily played piano keys add a bit of trouble to the middle of the tape as he goes off the rails with his bars once again.
When “SOBE GREEN” starts up, you can tell the vibe of the project is beginning to make a transition, and the more melodic Shannon comes out from the woodwork. While the production on this song might sound as if it came out of an adventure video game, I was anticipating GOYARD to utilize his pitched up, highly melodic voice, but he instead decided otherwise which was maybe a bit of a surprise, but it worked regardless. I was happy to come to find out that he didn’t ditch his pitched-up singing all together on this project considering the next few songs featured this style, which was executed to perfection, although that’s not much of a shock because GOYARD never seems to come up short when singing like this. Especially with the pleasant, melodious instrumentals he uses, his voice just pairs seamlessly and works so well every time, and I’m impressed time and time again which doesn’t happen often with most other artists.
As for the last track “MYSTERY BOX”, this title is the perfect name for what you receive. It starts out quick and upbeat as GOYARD’s vocals are pitched up once again and his words are rapidly recited. After a bit of time, the tempo totally slows down out of nowhere and his voice follows suit as the pitch lowers to a level that makes him sound like he’s trying to hide his identity. This remains the same for the majority of the song but eventually switches back to the original pitched-up sound that the song started out with. I was just blown away at this because typically artists don’t experiment too much with the tempo unless there’s a bridge or interlude of sorts. BBY GOYARD, on the other hand, wanted to flip the script and decided to just slow things down and speed things up almost mid-sentence, so it was something I wasn’t expecting but I was intrigued by, without a doubt.
In all honesty, I haven’t listened to a full BBY GOYARD project in its entirety in a while. I usually find a few tracks that stand out to me and I just listen to those constantly, but I think SYMBIOTE is going to change that ideology and it’s going to be a project that I excitedly revisit very frequently. The two-sidedness that it seems to have gives you the best of both worlds of the rapper’s talents and it’s chock full of some of the most inventive and interesting lyrics that you’re going to find from anyone in the entire music industry, big or small. Although I’m typically a fan of slightly longer run times, I think that for a mixtape of this nature, it was a perfect length as to sort of pop in, give fans a little taste of what he’s been working on recently, and pop back out to get back to work, because Lil Shannon always seems to be working. SYMBIOTE was honesty even better than I had expected which is crazy because I went in with some pretty high expectations, so it’s definitely a project you’re not only going to want to check out, but it’s a project that you’re absolutely going to want to revisit time and time again for the foreseeable future.