For me and many others, this release has been long awaited. Oncue has been an artist I have felt particularly invested in, and seeing him progress has been extremely exciting for me, as I consider myself a true fan from the beginning. I interviewed Cuey last December right after Cuey Sings the Blues dropped, and every time I see a new release from him I am excited to see the progression Cuey has shown time and time again.
This one’s different though; this release means something more to me. You see, Cuey is kind of at that point where he’s just about to blow up, but hasn’t really yet; that’s an extremely vital point in an artist’s career, and they can go in multiple directions. They can make songs that they think people want to hear; poppier production, catchier vocals–this option often leads to a significant style change for the artist, and it can either lead to their success or cause their fans to feel alienated. Or, they can progress their sound naturally, remaining true to their artistic styles and beliefs–they can talk about issues that still pertain to their lives, they can speak honestly, and they can make music they want to make.
Cuey took the latter road, and is all the better for it.
Headlights starts the album with some really smooth, mellow production, and is one of my favorite tracks on the tape.
I got no days off, that means no weekends
Cuey has been working like a mad man to make his dream a reality, and testimonials to his hard work run throughout this project. He’s honest about the struggles he faces, and no song makes that more clear to the listener than another one of my tracks on the tape, “Better than Before.” With an awesome sample from Ben Gibbard’s side-project, The Postal Service, Cuey raps about how the life he chose has a lot of harsh realities–strained relationships, alcohol abuse, etc. One thing I really respect about Cuey’s style is this realness; while many rappers unfortunately rap about things they truly do not have and feats they have never actually accomplished, Oncue just lays his life on the line.
We can’t deal with the problems of being stuck on the bottom so we go and grab the bottle/ And I gotta ask myself, am I the common factor?/ Everything I grab a hold of falls to the ground and shatters/ Or maybe I’m not, I doubt it’s the latter/ Everything I chase after turns around and runs backwards it’s a hazard
Cuey’s style has progressed in a really great way–the songs I didn’t like on Cuey’s tapes were all the “poppier” sounding records, and there are a few of those on here: Only Thing We Know, or Running, for example. But while I didn’t like those kind of tracks on Cuey’s older work, I really do like that style of his on Can’t Wait. Cuey shows us that he has a really great, enjoyable voice, and this is exciting as I think it could really help his future popularity, boosting him to that next level. But it’s hard staying on a grind that at times can feel extremely lonely and fruitless, as Cuey points out.
My drywall is cardboard, windows made of saran rap/ All I’m trying to do is build a song and see your hands clap/ So much words I’ve spoken/ Tired of being broken/ Heal me I need the potion, why can’t I feel emotion anymore, lately I’ve been so fucking numb/ Where the paralysis coming from? I don’t know I’m fucking done (Better than Before)
Cuey’s voice is complimented beautifully with the great production on this tape; I honestly don’t have an issue with the production of a single track on this record, and that’s something I am rarely able to say. 88-Keys lays some really smooth jazz down for “Kinda Late,” the collaboration track with Mike Posner, and Matt Grover, manicanparty, and Justin W all provide tight production throughout, along with the always consistent, never not dope CJ Luzi. Luzi has been Cuey’s chief producer for a long time, and it’s awesome seeing him progress along with Cuey. “They’re a pair that beats a full house,” as my grandfather might have put it. On “Running” they have a certifiable jam that I would not be surprised to hear on the radio. Cuey’s been working to make that dream a reality for a long time;
They don’t need to know, who about to blow/ No pun intended he was right under your nose/ 15 years old living in the studio rockin hand me down clothes tryna shimmy down flows/ Been focused, wasn’t till I left this shithole/ Yeah ya’ll took notice, now I’m hot/ Yeah you bogus/ I love my home I just hate some fuckers up in it (Can’t Wait)
One thing I pointed out the other day was how amusing it was to me that Cuey featured Mike Posner on a track and sang the hook himself, and also completely outshined Mike with his verse, as well. This is a testament to Cuey’s potential popular appeal, as he really shows time and time again throughout this project that he has a sound that can remain true to his artistic style while also appealing to a popular audience. Sonny Shotz also provides a nice cameo on Justin W’s wonderfully produced “Don’t Fall for That,” a standout on the album.
I titled this post with the preface of “Fralbum.” That’s a term Mac Miller coined, and it applies to this project more than anything else I’ve heard in a long time. This is not a mixtape–this is an album, free of charge. It’s a beautifully composed, intricately detailed, perfectly polished finish project. I would pay for this, and when he releases his next album I hope we all have the opportunity to give back to Cuey by reimbursing him for the gifts he has given us via his music. While I can’t say that a lot of the issues Cuey talks about directly pertain to me and my life, I still feel as if I can relate to his message; perseverance, hope, and loyalty to our dreams. Cuey’s making his dream come true, and inspiring many others to make their own dreams a reality; in my mind, that’s one of the highest praises I can bestow upon any artist, and Cuey deserves it.
I have streamed some of my favorites below, and I strongly, strongly urge you to download this entire album on Datpiff. It’s more than worth it
The good die young so I want to grow old (Not for Nothing)