Machine Entertainment Group
Highsnobiety

2.5/5.0

Now that Blueface has encroached upon the sacred offbeat space, G Herbo could be sweating, but you would never know if you listened to Still Swervin. It’s his second collaborative LP with producer Southside in under a year, and instead of being a frantic jump for idiosyncrasy (due to rap’s enclosing nature once a new-and-improved MC version comes out), Herbo is committed to his style and is not unwavering in the slightest. That said, Still Swervin lacks any kind of excitement due to its similarities to last year’s Swervo. Lyrically and stylistically, the two projects are nearly identical. That’s not necessarily a good or bad thing, it just limits it from really leaving a good impression – or any impression, really.

Last year, G Herbo was a charismatic family man with a new son, Yosohn, and an equally captivating partner, Ariana Fletcher. This year, he’s associated with villainy by a large subset of his fans; accusations of infidelity and indifference from Fletcher have tarnished his good name. In the midst of this – aside from posting pictures with a new girlfriend – Herbo remains quiet. Which is to be expected when he treats music like fireside chats, speaking to fans and giving his own personal insights and roadmaps related to the happenings in his life. Still Swervin was supposed to be the explanation of this chaos, but it purposefully avoids that. It’s not necessarily a fault, but it’s disappointing. If we can hear tales of guns and glory from years past, we should also get some insight into what’s going on now.

Still Swervin divides its soul into two halves – a soulful one, clearly a throwback to the Lil Herb days, and the Swervo identity that shoots music videos in lavish Airbnbs and G Wagons. The mood fluctuates between the two frequently. Opener “Sacrifice” seemingly plays on his sometimes offbeat style, muttering into a bass-less void before it comes in for a haunting run filled with nostalgia. He apologizes to his mother for the life he has given up in order to survive to the point where he’s at today. Soon after comes “Up It,” which is at the opposite end of the spectrum, An Atlanta-esque hodgepodge of 808s and modern ruckus that is only missing a feature from Lil Baby or Gunna. Both sides are at odds with each other, vying for supremacy in an album determined to divide them equally.

G Herbo’s conviction is readily apparent in the way that he outright refuses to acknowledge his situation. Lyricism here is a never-ending hodgepodge of gunplay metaphors and lavish lifestyle lines. If you’ve listened to Herbo’s discography up to this point, you know that the quality of said metaphors isn’t the boldest, nor the brightest; it’s his nature of consistency and blending that keeps listeners coming back. That doesn’t change here. The Juice WRLD-assisted chorus on “Never Scared” works because of Herbo’s gravelly delivery, creating one of the grittiest duet sections in recent memory. The storytelling of “Wilt Chamberlain” sticks out because of the juxtaposition of Herbo’s coarse vocals and the smooth singing in the background.

Luckily, Southside and the surrounding cast of producers and featured artists help to keep things interesting, even if, for the most part, the proceedings invoke a strong sense of déjà vu. Atlanta Producer Wheezy comes in for the album’s standout “Trained To Kill (Big Body Whip)” which is as bruising and ominous as last year’s “Swervo.” Southside, not to be outdone in the spooky, strips away the sensual elements of his scary trap for “York 30” which is the apotheosis of getting spooked. There are only a handful of features, but they land. Big Baby and Lil Gunna on “Trained To Kill (Big Body Whip)” are on autopilot, delivering contributions that probably sound just like you would imagine. Pretty Savage on “Bug” delivers a winding, twisting wordplay experience that makes it clear why Herbo would want to have her on his team.

But through it all, a nagging sense of boredom lurks in the background. Swervo, with its flash and theatrics but limited staying power, was like buying a video game that you have fun with but ultimately gets returned once you complete it. Still Swervin is like buying the game again because some additional content has been promised to revitalize the experience. There are fun moments in there, but before long it becomes stale much quicker than before. Still Swervin, since it lacks the punch of the first, becomes drier much quicker.

This could have been avoided if Herbo would have stayed true to his open-book nature and given listeners a taste of his current problems in his life. Of course it’s not necessary for artists to air their own dirty laundry, but if someone’s willing to admit their complicit nature in crimes that they’ve repeatedly talked about in the past, it’s not reasonable to expect (and actively want) them to talk about things that are actually happening to them. So with that issue in tow, and an overall solid selection of past and present G Herbo aesthetics that lack innovation, Still Swervin is hard to recommend. If you haven’t heard Swervo, this LP will bring you up to speed on G Herbo’s criminal activities. If you have, there’s nothing newer here than what existed on Swervo. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a reason to play it again, and that’s even if you make it to the end in the first place.

G Herbo’s ‘Still Swervin’ is available to buy or stream. For more of our album reviews, head here.

Words by Trey Alston
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