Signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville Records, Bas appeared on “New York Times,” a cut from Cole’s Born Sinner in 2013, alongside 50 Cent. Growing up in Queens, NY, Bas has a similar feel to Cole, in fact, acts almost like another J. Cole entirely. They have similar styles of production, rapping style, flow, and the lacking ability to write a song about only one topic. Here on Too High to Riot, Bas seems to be able to stick to one idea to talk about per song better than he ever has, but like his earlier work and even Cole’s, it’s almost as if every introspective thought or idea is followed by general rap banter about bitches or money or drugs. It all just ends up confusing the listener and worst of all, losing the weight of the message in the first place.
Mixed by Ali and produced by one of J. Cole’s producers, Ron Gillmore, Too High to Riot sounds great, much like Cole’s projects always do regardless of the lyrical content. The most confusing bit of Too High to Riot however stems completely from the record’s lyrical content, as the introspective thoughts from Bas are lost in misunderstandings and an unclear message. The record opens up with the title track, “Too High to Riot,” where Bas lists a whole bunch of problems in the world (N.S.A., world leaders, prison, women, money, etc.), but then expresses that he’s “too high to riot” about any of it. Is Bas painting a portrait of himself as a lazy sedated drug addict with no energy or drive, or is he saying that it’s just all too much so he gets high because it’s beyond hope? Either way, it’s not great for Bas.
“I’ve been doing the wrong drugs all along” he says on “Methylone,” showing that he’s not proud of his drug use, but instead of saying “don’t get messed up with drugs,” Bas just says don’t do methylone, that’s the wrong drug. Others are okay though apparently. Too High to Riot is an odd cocktail of someone saying “flush the drugs” yet simultaneously standing behind rap stereotypes regarding drugs and addiction ignorance like someone who blurts out “I’m not an alcoholic, I’ve learned my lesson” before they ralph on the subway tracks. “My response to critics is spittin’ from the heart” he says on “Penthouse.” I love that he’s rapping honestly and personally, it’s just all masked in its delivery. All the work material is there, like on “Black Owned Business” and “Penthouse,” Bas just has to learn what to highlight, and what to drive home.