Richmond native rapper, producer, and entrepreneur iAmSu! has been grinding to get his dues in the music industry for the past six years. Eight mixtapes and an HBK Gang Record Label later, iAmSu! earned his distribution deal and subsequent in-store release, Sincerely Yours, in 2014. Fresh off this debut album release, iAmSu! continues to drop music as he has consistently for a while now. In early 2015, he released a seven track mixtape entitled, Eyes on Me, that is a clear reference to 2Pac’s classic double album, All Eyez on Me.
Prior to listening, the mixtape appears to continue the trend of quality releases from iAmSu!. Such quality in production is in credit due to Cal-A, DJ Mustard, iAmSu!, P-Lo, Jay Ant and C4. The only features are Tyga and fellow HBK member Jay Ant, who always brings a unique flow to the table. Coming in at around 25 total minutes, Eyes on Me is clearly a transitional project in between his debut album and the next major one.
Upon a few listens, Eyes on Me fulfills exactly what it’s meant to; to provide new content and a few new slaps for his followers. Nothing more, nothing less. Su effectively mixes a few bangers with other more laid back hits. Seeing the DJ Mustard instrumental credit prompted me to expect a hard hitting, hi-hat filled slap but to my surprise, “Nothin Less” was a different sounding DJ Mustard instrumental that indubitably impressed. The summer-slap keyboard instrumental worked well with his flow and adopted the typical HBK vibe, for which I give DJ Mustard props. In fact, the next hit “Hella Good” seems like it was the DJ Mustard vibe that we were all used to, despite being produced by Su himself. As the artists themselves adventured into new territory, the production impressed and engaged as a result of what HBK projects always do.
Relaxed with the feng shui and smooth west coast vibes, Su’s verses excite and sway along the waves of the complimentary instrumentals. Nothing he says is too innovative, but the writing and execution is on point, as followers have become used to. Despite this, the stand out performance of the tape has to go to Jay Ant’s feature on “Bandz.” He reaches the perfect level of inebriation on the hook, in addition to possibly delivering the best verse on the tape:
Young Sensei, muy caliente //
She say I’m a player, huh? That’s what her friends say
Unfortunately, Eyes on Me disappoints as a cohesive project. Some of the hooks are forgettable, i.e. “Cartier.” There are a few skip-over tracks. The lyrical content is underwhelming; which doesn’t necessarily exacerbate bangers, but doesn’t improve the quality in this instance.
Most importantly, the auto-tune verses flop.
iAmSu! must undeniably stray from the irresistible urge to use terrible auto-tune. That’s not to say he cannot deliver with auto-tune at all (see “Only That Real” for a good example), but that doesn’t go without saying that he should be more selective in the future.
Despite these imperfections, Eyes on Me has significant replay-ability. Similar to essentially every iAmSu! release, it deserves good speakers, a sub-woofer with quality bass and the volume turnt up. These songs were made to slap on subs.