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Single Review: Star2 “Real Life” (feat. Lil Poppa)

The first element of Star2’s “Real Life” to really grab us at the start of the track is the beat, but in the next few minutes that unfold, the acclaimed young rapper and his collaborator Lil Poppa will unleash a slew of verses that make the rhythm seem rather simple. There’s a mild competition between these two as they navigate the grooves, but it’s all in good fun; together, they’re cultivating a strong-arm tempo that makes their intentions at the mic clear, which is more than can be said for some of the other rap collaborations I’ve heard lately.

Attitude is the cornerstone of everything good in hip-hop, and Star2 set a fine example for how to act casual at the helm of a project while still putting forth a lot of swagger in his verses. It’s evident that he’s spent some time ironing out the detail in his style of attack, and judging from the relaxed vibe he has with Lil Poppa, he could probably repeat this format with another rapper and sound just as commanding as he does here. You can’t fake talent like this, and both of these players are drawing it out of one another.

Star2’s melodic vocal is the center of calm in this track, and in tandem with Lil Poppa’s I think they produce the kind of harmonies in this single that hip-hop and trap need more of right now. There’s scarcely a moment in which either of their melodicism doesn’t feel as impactful – if not more – than the straight rapping does, which on its own says a lot about their skillsets both independently and together. They’re phenomenal linguists, and the fact that they’re even better at harmonizing tells me that there’s more experimentation to be done here.

The music video for “Real Life” impressed me a lot thanks to its simplicity and confident visuals, both of which reject the minimalism trend altogether. It seems like a lot of rappers, young and old alike, seem to have a difficult time getting to that middle speed between conservative songcraft and indulgent, surreal soundscapes, but this is one area where Star2 doesn’t need any help. He’s got a handle on how to find a balance in a track, which is something that’s going to help him, and, in this case, Lil Poppa, find a lot more exposure on both sides of the mainstream spectrum.

I love where Star2 is taking his sound right now, and while I think he doesn’t need any assistance coming off like a G when he’s got the microphone in his hands, there’s something really exceptional about the chemistry he shares with Lil Poppa here. They have a lot in common stylistically, but it’s where they contrast with each other that I think most of the fireworks in this performance are generated. I’d love to see them play some material live and in person some time, but until that opportunity arises, “Real Life” is a good introduction to what these guys are all about in the studio.

Loren Sperry



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