Waka Flocka Flame

Waka Flocka Flame (June 11, 2012)

***1/2 (out of four)

Waka Flocka Flame is a rapper who embodies pretty much every common critique of hip-hop: his music is noisy, often violent or materialistic, and he is almost completely lacking in lyrical depth. Your opinion of his material probably depends largely on whether you believe any piece of music played at a certain volume could be improved by someone yelling “FLOCKA” or “SQUAD” or “BOW” or “FLEX” in the background. But in case you're on the fence about this question, let's be clear: the answer is emphatically yes, it could be, and Flocka's second full-length album, “Triple F Life,” does the yelling thing very well.

Although the album never matches the total chaos of “Flockaveli” highlight “Hard in the Paint,” it pulls off the potentially harder trick of bending more typical pop tracks to the whims of the loud, blunt Brick Squad aesthetic. The biggest pop hit of “Flockaveli” was the stripper anthem “No Hands,” and “Triple F Life” is full of attempts – more successful ones, even – to replicate its smooth handling of Flocka's gravelly charm. Flocka can tear through a percussive Lex Luger-produced Drake collaboration, naturally, but he also shows here that he can make even a Flo Rida song sound awesome through sheer charisma.

Its default approach is a giddy, standing-on-couches, bragging-about-your-$200-underwear irreverence (or occasionally a scarier irreverence in talking about posting up to shoot people), but “Triple F Life” also has an emotional core that confronts the album's frequently tense, violent world, particularly on closer and highlight “Triple F Outro.” The album works as a release for that tension, and it invites the listener to join in the mood by shouting along, ideally with a good SQUAAAAAAAAD of friends, fans or family.