As far as rap is concerned, any reference to the “west coast” is more than likely a reference to Los Angeles. To be even more precise, within the L.A. area, few cities have yielded more renowned rappers than Inglewood. Skeme, who reps the “City of Champions,” should by now be enjoying the level of success reached by Meek Mill and/or Wale, but the stars just haven’t aligned for him so far, despite former NBA player Baron Davis’ quiet involvement as a bankroller. Although their business relationship is now severed, it spawned Pistols & Palm Trees, a free album that was quietly as close as any West Coast rapper has come to Illmatic (including Kendrick Lamar). Having dropped a few lukewarmly received mixtapes and an iTunes album since Pistols, Skeme’s next project is the Ingleworld album, due Dec. 17. To hold fans over, he linked with DJ Skee and DJ Base to release Bare With Me as a free download.
Skeme’s signature raspy voice is his biggest asset. His uplifting and semi-conscious songs are there, too, but at the core he is utterly ratchet. Bare With Me is littered with turn-up anthems such as “All That,” produced by Dupri of League of Starz, the production team behind Problem’s “Like Whaa.” “Poor Money,” produced by King David, features a chorus from former crump dancer-turned-R&B singer Teeflii and The Game, who ends his verse with “I don’t even go there on Blood songs,” a nod to Skeme’s and his gang affiliation.
Tupac’s “Pain” sample is used on “Money x Time” with singer Fat Boxx and production by DJ Wess. Skeme’s delivery is simply haunting as he raps “with my blood sweat and my tears, found my lane and switched gears/ drop icy fresh in my ears/ I lift double-cups and scream cheers/ after all the pain I found pleasure/ my ambition no man can measure.” The lyrics are simple but convincing.
Bare With Me contains 21 songs by 11 different producers, both telling signs that the emcee believes in variety and volume. He all but admits it’s a bad habit in a statement from his publicist. “I’ve got a habit of making 10, 12 songs in every recording session, so I could have dropped Ingleworld by now,” he says.
While Bare With Me could have been more concise, the lack of brevity isn’t detrimental. The mixtape is simply a buffet when it probably should have been more like an appetizer for Ingleworld. Skeme is giving more when he could be giving less. Can’t be mad at that.