Written by: Robert Robinson @RobRobgraphics
I preface this article by saying I am not some rap aficionado though I am a fan, and former performer in the space, not a great one, but slightly better than average if I do say so. But I digress, so take this as you will. I always recommend using your own two ears before rushing to judgment. This is my opinion, and may not reflect the opinion of the entire Blitzalytics organization...though it probably does...
(Should you wish to listen along you can do so here) [ ] = song timestamps
Last night, while most of America was tucked snuggly in their beds, some HUGE Le’Veon Bell news came across the wire. No, not the fact that he finally has a new home after multiple contentious seasons in Pittsburgh, I will let my Blitz brothers who are more knowledgeable than I speak on that subject. No, I am talking about the release of “Life’s a Gamble”, the new album from the much-maligned star running back.
I have heard Le’ Bells’ music before, and to be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to hearing this album for the quality, but I was curious to see if there would be any references to his time in the Steel City or relationships with certain teammates. Sadly it was mostly a simple less than average “mumble rap” album, with a couple of turn of phrases that could be the tasty little morsels I was looking for.
In the next few hundred words or so I will break down the album track by track, and give you a few thoughts, ask a few questions, and we will decide together if this album is the biggest fumble of Bell’s career.
Track 1: Lotto [0:00]
I was expecting a mumble rap album as I said, I have heard his music before, so this didn’t come as a shock. What was a shock (and spoiler: it continues throughout the whole album) was that this song, and most others, felt lazy...even for this style. Content-wise this song is pretty average, nothing to really write about...pretty forgettable track. In it Bell says “I feel like I hit the lotto”--well I feel like I lost.
Track 2: Talk of the Town [2:24]
I will give Le’Veon this much, there are some unforgettable lines peppered into Life’s a Gamble. There are two in this song alone. First “I made more money than you thought of”...that is a classic line if I have ever heard one, it was almost nostalgic. The second line, quite literally made me LOL… “I caught a buzz like I’m playing with sockets”...that is genius. When one can combine hip hop and science one has changed the game indeed.
Track 3: Large Amount ft Rico Music [5:44]
The only feature on the album, Rico Music handles his own on this track...in fact, it feels like it is his song and Le is featured as Bell doesn’t spend near as much time on the track as Rico. The standout lines from this track include “Making more in my off day” a clear reference to his status with the Steelers, and what I’m pretty sure was Bell saying “I got Molly” at about the one minute mark...though it is very hard to tell. Maybe somebody with a more keen ear can let me know. I bet the league would be curious as to what he means by that, given his past suspensions.
Track 4: Free At Last [8:56]
This feels like the song with the most direct jabs at the Steelers organization, truth be told, it reminds me of an old-school beef track. At one point Bell says “Money is making me rude/ I see that I’m in the news/ And they not signing me back/ But they gotta pay for that too”. It is fairly obvious that Bell feels like he is owed substantial financial compensation for his services with one listen to the hook… “I said I'm robbin’ these [expletive] ain’t got no mask on/ I did what you couldn’t do I got a backbone/ Oh yea I’m takin’ they bags, ain’t got no mask/ and when it comes to this cash I need it bad/ I’ma take they money with no mask/ Money with no mask/ Money with no mask on”---clearly he was looking for his payday, probably bigger than what he actually netted with the Jets.
Track 5: Drip Drip [11:16]
If I am being totally honest, I wanted to stop this project here. I was just growing tired of the same repetitive cadence that Bell continues to lean on. To me, it felt like the lyrics could have easily been transposed onto any other track up to this point. He just has yet to exhibit much creativity in flow pattern and style. It sounds more like a cheap knock-off of the Migos instead of something new. Literally, NOTHING about this track stood out.
Track 6: One of Me [13:32]
After Drip Drip and this song, I have come to the conclusion that we have hit the filler portion of the album. Truth be told the beat is pretty cold...I cannot deny this, so shoutouts to the producer Evolution EXCLV, but it’s yet again just average or even slightly below average lyrics. The line that caught my attention here was “The way I ball in real life feel like a Laker”-- I’m a Lakers fan so this kind of baffles me. If he is referencing Lonzo Ball, I know the Jets certainly hope he is better than that. If he is making a reference to the team in general, than it is my guess that this song was written a while ago, roughly when LeBron signed and people thought they would be good, because the way it sounds to me is he is mediocre at best and honestly quite disappointing, which would be a weird thing to brag about. I’m going to need some clarity here Le’Veon.
Track 7: Addicted to you [16:40]
The intro and title deceived me into thinking Bell was going to get emotional here, but alas no. It sounded like an attempt to sound like T-Pain, and maybe had he not missed out on the 14 or so million last season he could have hired him instead of doing a bad impression. And I am not sure, but to me at right around the two and a half minute mark it sounds like he says “I’m a midget to you”. Whether he does or not in my mind that is all I will ever hear.
Track 8: Overrated [19:48]
Ok I know I have been eviscerating this album, but this track has some merit. Of all of the tracks on here, this seems to me to be the pinnacle. This song, to me at least, has some truth behind it. The way he says “I just don’t want people to think I’m overrated” feels like the most genuine line of any song. I legitimately think he feels that way. This is probably Le’Veon Bell's’ magnum opus, and the track with the most replayability. I genuinely found myself enjoying this song.
Track 9: On Me [23:28]
This song is deceptive. It has a traditional banging trap beat, with a more introspective feel. Half of the lyrics are your standard fare for a trap song, the other half seem to describe all the many reasons he needs the money he held out for. Not my favorite track...but not the worst song I have ever heard either. We also get the instant classic line of “I got these bands and they can’t fit in my jeans”...the NFL pays very well.
Track 10: Say No More [26:42]
This track isn’t the best song on the album, though I have a way to make it better. I am going to leave this to you to listen to. I don’t think this is too Big Ben Roethlisberger, but the song is so much better if you close your eyes and pretend it is their breakup song...kind of makes it my favorite song ever.
Track 11: Gas on E [29:56]
Well, it seems as if we have passed on through the “good” portion of the album and fell headfirst back into filler. The title of the track is ironic in so many ways. If you have made it this far and are anything like me, I am on E. I am ready to be done listening to this now. This song is entirely skippable. I will borrow a line from the track to describe my feelings, “I know they gasin’ me, but my gas is on E.”
Track 12: VVS [32:40]
Sweet merciful lord, we are finally nearing the end of this marathon. The most interesting line in this song is the first, “I think they know just who I am now.” After all the stories about him, and listening to this album, I have a more clear image of Le'Veon...great player, middle of the road rapper, and if the lyrics are too be believed, he cares more about money than winning...are you shocked? Because I’m not. This song also has the most ridiculous analogies I have ever heard, “I can remember the first time when I touched a mill/ Now I stay with some ballers I’m like a milf”, and “Keep it a hundred like I’m a dalmatian.” Much like his contract demands, he came up a bit short on that dalmatian's reference (should be 101, come on Le’ Veon, step up your Disney game).
I know rap these days aren't filled to the brim with conscious lyrics and tends to stay in the ballpark of money, drugs, and women, but this album very rarely strays from the topics. Bell stays mostly in the same cadence and delivery throughout the entirety of the album leaving me wishing for more creative flow and rhyme pattern. It also didn’t escape me how often the word patience appears in his lyrics. He is known to be one of the most patient runners in the history of the NFL, but it took MY patience to get through this. This album is 35:58 that I, and if you listen along, you can never get back, much like Bell’s 2018 NFL salary. If this is what we got from his lost 2018 season, what a waste. I will end with my advice to Le’ Veon in the form of the title of a favorite pod of mine. When it comes to the choice between music and football, Stick to Football.