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Rated X! - Buck$, X!

Updated: May 6

New Jersey Artist-Producer combo Buck$ and X! have joined forces to deliver a concise blend of lyrical prowess and catchy songwriting over a roster of Trap beats in their collaborative project, “Rated X!”. With Buck$ on the vocals as the most prominent artist on the tape, his knack for crafting infectious hooks and delivering high-level lyricism shines throughout the 11-track journey. X!, the mastermind behind the production, lays down a sonic landscape rich with various mainstay elements of the Trap genre, providing the best vibes for Buck$ to lay down some bars From the soul-sampled opening track, "DREAM$," to the reflective "W.I.A.F.D." (When It All Falls Down), these first two songs on the project welcome us to the world they have curated. The project unfolds seamlessly from there, captivating listeners with its raw energy and introspective moments. "BRAND NEW - X! REMIX" is another soul-sampled track that showcases the synergy between Buck$'s dynamic flow and X!'s familiar-yet-innovative production. Blending the melodies of the sample with modern rhythms in the form of heavy kicks and 808’s, X! Really enjoys making these fusion-type tracks that embrace the past and the present at the same time. “Ca$e Closed,” opts for a darker-toned Trap sound, something comparable to 21 Savage, and Buck$ slides effortlessly over it. The energy keeps flowing on “MY GOALIE,” which I admittedly didn’t like at first, however as I continued to listen to the track, it grew on me, especially once the melody and rhythm kicked in fully. 

"Me, My$elf, Swimmin’,” takes a darker turn sonically, as it doubles down on the Metro Boomin influences here with a beat that sounds like it could be on any 21 Savage project. That isn’t a slight to Producer X! either. 21 is one of my favorite artists, and with Metro’s production being so integral to his sound too, I’m very pleased to hear the musical idea on this track, and the introspective bars that Buck$ lays down on top of it. "Unc'$ Prayer Interlude" reminds me of DMX’s Prayer tracks, except pitched up to sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks. While the vocals are a cool contrast, it is difficult to hear what’s being said here, and properly resonate with it, as well as figure out where it fits conceptually. 

“DISTANCE” follows up the interlude with a thumping beat that constantly has some kind of bang going on in your speakers. There are moments of calm in between, where the bass is absent, but when it comes back it hits hard. The texture of the sounds here are interesting, and adds depth to the project's overall sound. "KEEP OUT!" is next up, opting for a slower tempo than previous tracks. Adding some versatility to Buck$ repertoire here, it’s nice to see him switch things up, even if they are slight. The tune is one of the smoothest on the project and another one of my personal favorites. On “Infinite Parallel,” the project sees its first features in the form of artists OTG and J Jones. This track is the most upbeat, and erratic of the bunch so far. Buck$ comes off with a flow that sounds just plain hungry, thanks to the hi-hats employed by X!. The ramping intensity of the hi-hats makes it feel as though the track is coming to a metaphorical head as it continues to build. The features add a nice variation to the track, helping keep things a bit fresh before the project closes out. On "Call$ Collect (Outro)," listeners are treated to one last soul-sampled beat. Getting into his introspection bag again, Buck$ reflects on how he got to where he currently is. Filled with adversity and loneliness, the song ends on a solemn note, but one where he is still encouraged to continue following his dreams. 

Across the 28-minute runtime, Buck$ and X! have created a concise Trap project that manages to remain fresh throughout, and doesn’t overstay its welcome with a sound that has as much potential to be repetitive as it does innovative. If you’re a fan of Future, 21 Savage, Metro Boomin, or Trap in general, give this record a spin at your earliest convenience, and hop on the Rated X! train before it leaves the station. 

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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