Culture Trips

Fredo: Money Can’t Buy You Happiness review – melancholy rap realism | Rap

West London’s Fredo is a rapper with money on his mind. His 2017 debut mixtape was called Get Rich Or Get Recalled; on his 2019 album, Third Avenue, he had the braggadocio to call a track Money Maker. But after a few pop misfires – namely a 2020 single called Hickory Dickory Dock – Fredo has reached the conclusion that wealth is not the answer, and that authenticity is paramount.

Here, Mercury prize winner Dave – with whom Fredo teamed for their 2018 smash Funky Friday – serves as executive producer, and storytelling is at the fore as Fredo narrates the effects of street life and selling drugs with unwavering detail. In one reveal, on standout track Biggest Mistake, he says he met Dave’s brother in prison. Ready, which samples the Fugees and features Summer Walker, and Burner on Deck (with the late Pop Smoke), are about as chart-baiting as it gets.

The mood is surprisingly melancholy, accented by Tupac-echoing piano, the beats punchy and unfussy, and Fredo’s lyrical flair shines through. Sometimes it’s playful – “Catch me countin’ 20 in the morning while I eat porridge” – but, come soulful closer What Can I Say, he’s reached some hard realisations (“fuck money and fame”) as he lists those he’s lost.

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