Lil Tjay wants to step up.
Signed while only a teenager, the Bronx artist shelled it down on debut album 'True 2 Myself', a dynamic display of natural authority with the mic. While 2020's 'State Of Emergency' proved his drill chops, there's also been something with a little more soul inside his music.
Out now, 'Destined To Win' brings this element to the forefront. The production leans on those skittering drill and trap beats, but the woozy, distorted samples twist soulful cuts into haunting phantoms, flicking elements of light inside a paranoid palette.
That's not to suggest that 'Destined To Win' is dark, however. The overriding theme is ambition - 'Born 2 Be Great' is a song of escapism, while the Saweetie enabled 'Move' disrupts with its breathless velocity.
Leaning on his Bronx upbringing, 'Hood Rich' and 'Life Changed' find Lil Tjay dealing with success, exploring a form of survivor syndrome amid an American society that doles out an appalling attrition rate on young Black men.
Spread across 21 tracks - three bonus cuts were added to the fray - not everything works perfectly. 'Go Crazy' feels a little flimsy, while 'No Cap' passes by a blur; the highlights, however, propel the New Yorker forwards, joined by a stellar cast that includes Tyga, Offset, 6LACK, Fiveo Foreign, and Polo G.
A deft step outside of hood braggadocio, 'Destined 2 Win' makes his ambitions explicit, but it truly thrives when Lil Tjay leaves his feelings and his creativity exposed.
Words: Robin Murray
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