DMV rapper Black Cobain has been a star-in-waiting for a while, the perpetual understudy to his Board Administration patron Wale. As his fourth mix tape in three years, “Cheers,” arrives, Cobain (born Marcus Gloster) is either on the verge of a breakout or another rapper languishing in mix-tape purgatory.
“Sleeping on me . . . / You should get your [expletive] some NoDoz,” Cobain rumbles in “Penalty of Leadership,” although he doesn’t do much to back this up. “Cheers” isn’t a world-beater. It’s overly relaxed, a little dated (there’s a Burberry shout-out, for one thing) and seemingly uninterested in memorable beats.
There’s a handful of solid tracks, such as the Drake-evoking operatic ballad “Thriller” and “Scotty Pippen,” which seems to exist only to assure everyone that Cobain is comfortable in second position to Wale, who has seen his own fortunes change dramatically since his protege’s last mix tape, the much better “Young Gifted and Black.” (Wale shows up alongside Trel on the underwhelming “5 A.M.,” the follow-up to their very similar collaboration from last year, “4 A.M.”)
As you knew it must, the “Cheers” theme song makes an appearance, underpinning the mighty “Epiphany,” which begins as a piano bar rumination on Cobain’s recent performance at the Royal Ballet in London and winds up as a welterweight banger that explores Cobain’s as-yet-unquenched ambitions (“I’m just being the voice / I’m just being the hope / I’m first class fly / But for now riding in coach”). It’s a rare and welcome moment of overreach.
“Penalty of Leadership,” “Epiphany”