Blackway – a 27-year-old Brooklyn-born, Ghana-raised rapper – races through times that are good, bad, and faded on his recently released EP, Good.Bad.Faded.
He begins the EP with the easygoing, vibin’-and-ridin’-the-flow track “Andaz.” Perhaps a tribute to the luxurious Hyatt Andaz hotels and the transitory, uninhibited indulgences one experiences when in such a location, Blackway feels no shame in embracing the no-strings-attached life with a woman whose name (and sign) he does not know: “She wanna find out where I stay” answered a few verses later by “I told her pull up the Andaz.” Blackway makes it clear that he has no intentions of turning this one-night fling into a committed relationship; the glamour of fame – signified by the Andaz – compels him to put a hold on all things serious, if only for a moment (a vacation from the bad).
The free living life continues on the next two tracks – “KIST” and “Cake” – as life remains good for Blackway. On “KIST,” which stands for “keep it simple tonight,” Blackway amps up his sexually provocative lyrics, letting us know about the “wet spots all on the bed sheets / tongue gamin’ like a jet ski.” Blackway showcases his singing abilities on a chorus that, if inserted into a song by Trey Songz, would feel completely natural there – both due to sound and content. Blackway wants to “just keep it simple tonight,” grateful that the woman also feels the same way.
In addition to praising the woman for wanting to keep it simple, Blackway praises her appearance in a “white tee, with some leggings on and some Nike slides,” wondering how she “make that shit look so good?” This praise of the woman’s appearance continues on “Cake,” a song featuring Bandhunta Izzy. Finally moving from the bedroom to the club, Blackway unashamedly worships the woman and her curvaceous body – specifically, her ass (her “cake”). At the conclusion of the first three tracks, life has been lavish, rewarding, good for Blackway.
The mood switches on “Bourbon Street.” Conceit drips off his lyrics, forming the daggers and heat he uses to sear his competition as he positions himself above them. Blackway boldly declares his place in the game, how he is “willing to father” his peers and that he’s “been feelin’ like a king for months.” He does not, however, forget his early struggle: “I defeated my fears / soaked a towel in my tears.” By remembering his climb to the top, Blackway becomes a conscientious arrogant king: “Might do some favors, but I ain’t breakin’ my spine.” While willing to use his increasing influence to assist others, Blackway remains cognizant of his worth and will not be taken advantage of or exploited for someone else’s gain.
The dancehall banger “License” – one evocative of the Afrobeats hits of past and present – sees Blackway struggling to get over a past relationship with a woman. A self-identified “fucking mess,” Blackway cannot exist happily without her, his “dopamine.” He recognizes her control over him, how she exerts the influence of a higher power over him: “But still you control me / you control me when you do your thing.”
“Save Me” builds off the longing of “License”: “Five shots and I’m yearning.” Blackway is no longer overconfident; he admits to his dependency on another person, to the loss of order in his life without this person. He pleads for them to save him from himself.
While much of the content on Good.Bad.Faded is nothing extraordinarily new, Blackway has proven his versatility as an artist: He can deliver hits that will likely get club play (“Andaz,” “KIST,” and “Cake”); he is capable of sharpening his rap flow when necessary, challenging his competition with metaphorical wit and punchy one-liners (“Bourbon Street”); and he can channel a softness that makes him relatable to those who have experienced any type of yearning (“License” and “Save Me”). If Blackway can maintain this versatility without broadening himself to the point where he has no artistic identity, then he will be able to continue forging a path as a hip-hop artist. To be able to seamlessly blend together three different vibes on one EP to tell a story – and only in 20 minutes – is a positive sign that Blackway will be able to deliver on that endeavor.
Listen to Good.Bad.Faded on all major streaming services.