Lil Skies‘ newest mixtape Life of a Dark Rose is a coming out party that informs the world that no one will stop him from achieving his dreams. He is a man on a mission and he throws shade at all the critics, naysayers and gold diggers who want nothing more than to see him fail. The tension is the bedrock of the album, a love/hate relationship with fame that serves as his primary inspiration.

The beats are mild compared to some of his contemporaries, full of non-traditional bangers that embrace the emotional side of superstardom. It sets the stage for some heavy thinking, and for such a young lyricist it doesn’t extend much beyond standard fair. When he’s not lamenting over his tribulations he’s indulging in his wealth. There’s potential, but the lack of variety makes it predictable and uninspiring.

Welcome to the Rodeo

Not your typical grind song. His road to fame was paved with danger, and despite all the temptations he was able to persevere and achieve success. The difference is that he takes it a step further, explaining that now that he’s broken through he’s not going to do anything to jeopardize it. Family is a priority and with them behind him he has the confidence to forge on and build his empire: [LISTEN]

The Clique

A sweeping synth marks a moment of nostalgia. It’s a posse cut, but not a banger per se. He’s expressing his loyalty and love, and how nothing will compromise his allegiance. They’ve been with him since the beginning and he’s not about to leave them behind for money or women. Keeping them close by keeps him on solid ground, and so long as the wheels keep turning he’ll be there with them: [LISTEN]

Red Roses

With all the luxuries surrounding him, Lil Skies is making sure not to lose focus. He’s destined for the this, and he believes that one slip up could end it all. The fear is a sobering force and he’s letting just enough seep into the equation as to keep him on track. Red roses are iconic, but they also die quickly. He knows the mortality of an entertainer, and is priming himself for a long run: [LISTEN]

Lust

The chiming bells in the distance add an ominous dimension. It creates a damning atmosphere that has him admonishing the excess of lust and the absence of love. It’s not your usual theme, but one that shows where his head is at. Money is the motivating force and the pursuit of it is having him looking at his pursuits with clear vision. A young promising buck looking to secure his place in line: [LISTEN]

Cloudy Skies

The skies are cloudy and he’s feverishly looking for a companion to bring a little light into his life. His workload is stressing him out, and maintaining the grind is leaving him empty. With all the plastic people around looking for a piece of the pie, he’s having trouble finding someone he can have a real conversation with. His life is a circus now, and all he wants is clarity and commitment: [LISTEN]

Signs of Jealousy

Taking a minute out of his busy schedule to acknowledge all the haters out there. He’s taking note of the sour looks on their faces and how they all want a piece of his success. Their ire is fueling his ascent and he’s not letting the envy break his stride. Understanding where the shade is coming from allows him to make calculated steps, keeping his friends close and his enemies closer: [LISTEN]

Big Money

The airy melodies project a fairy tale-like fantasy. He’s living the good life and spending his money audaciously. There’s no limit to his indulging, and he feels like he’s earned every moment. Part of lavish living means copious amounts of drugs, and every hit and sip is sending him higher into the stratosphere. The view from above is making him giddy and he wants the party to go on forever: [LISTEN]

Tell My Haters

Another scathing shout out to his many haters. He’s getting nasty looks at every turn and the masses are talking trash behind his back. The relentless assault is only adding fuel to his fire and he’s making sure to burn every and everyone standing in his way. Despite the rage brewing in his chest, he still keeps his delivery light; staying true to the style that got him to where he’s at: [LISTEN]

Boss Up

The bass hits a little harder, which signifies a shift in mentality. He’s done being soft and is reminding the world that when it comes down to it he’s ready to man up and be the boss. He’s getting his and making sure that the piece of the pie he’s slicing off is enough to last a lifetime. The success is intoxicating and he’s willing to spend the rest of his days trying to preserve the feeling: [LISTEN]

Garden

Lil Skies’ life is a giant garden that needs constant tending to. He’s tilled the soil, planted the seeds and is waiting for his harvest. The elements are bombarding his efforts and like a good gardener he’s keeping a close eye on his bounty. The hope is that he will continue to grow and flourish to the point of abundance. It’s a soft analogy, but one that adds a little variety to his output: [LISTEN]

Lettuce Sandwich

Lil Skies is on a mission. He’s reaching for the cabbage and looking to secure generational wealth. As the captain of the ship he’s used to having dusty stowaways hitching free rides, but he knows that if he sheds the dead weight he can move even faster. Knowing who to trust and who not to helps him keep things in order. It’s dangerous waters and he needs to be in control to ensure longevity: [LISTEN]

Strictly Business

A song dedicated to those who stuck by him and stayed true and the others who jumped ship early and are now looking to make their way back into his good graces. Being stuck in the middle is adding unnecessary stress, but he knows that he has to be careful now that he has fame and fortune on his side. Like EPMD said it’s strictly business, and he needs to keep it that way if he wants to survive: [LISTEN]

Kill4u

Lil Skies explains to his lady that he would do anything for her. He’s adopting the tired cliche that he would kill for their love, and he believes that it’s enough to land him a spot in her heart. It doesn’t take long for him to jump topics and rap about how rich he is and how much drugs he has stowed away. It’s a brash statement that doesn’t have any weight behind it; a long, bland pick up line: [LISTEN]

Nowadays

Lil Skies reiterates his disdain for phonies and pretenders. There are droves of thirsty people looking to cash in on his success, and he’s making sure he doesn’t get caught up in the nonsense. Money is the motivating force in his life and no one will stop him from achieving his goals. The life is already wearing on him, but he knows if he keeps a sound head he can see it through to the end: [LISTEN]