In the middle of the decade auto-tuned rapping over trap beats was new and evocative. Aimlessly crooning about guns, sex and money over skittering high-hats and 808’s worked as long as the 808’s kept knocking. Now, on the brink of 2020, it’s old hat. Regardless, Houdini dusts off the Raptors fitted and delivers a generic trap album bereft of layers.
Without a defining element on HOU WOULDA THOUGHT it merely washes over you. The ‘INTRO’ and ‘BELMONT BOYZ’ provide a sci-fi veneer to HOU WOULDA THOUGHT but it quickly melts away. Rattling hi-hats and pounding 808’s envelop the album but none do so with aplomb. Instead of HOU WOULDA THOGUHT sounding like Houdini meticulously spent hours in the lab with his producer it reeks of YouTube “Type Beats”. ‘PROOF”s hollow and spectral beat emulates a Future trap banger circa 2015 without the drip, ‘BIG CRIP’ is a Killy track without the viscerality and ‘OPTIONS’, a guitar lead Juice Wrld cut without the sadness.
Each track is a toothless b-side from an artist Houdini clearly draws influence from and Houdini does nothing to save them.
HOU WOULDA THOUGHT is dripping in all the same ideas trap has bathed in before: pharmaceuticals, sex, luxury and firearms. But Houdini doesn’t repackage or isolate these ideas, allowing each to infect the other. Houdini flails between one-liners almost incoherently, especially on ‘FREAK’ where he raps “I got diamond water VV/ You can’t see like Stevie/ Now the L upside down, LV/”. By rapping about everything at the same time Houdini effectively raps about nothing. And without any word play to enforce his one-liners Houdini leaves the audience slogging through humdrum flexing. Not only are the lyrics empty, the ad-libs are simplistic. Too many lines across HOU WOULDA THOUGHT are constantly punctuated with ad-libs that simply repeat ends of bars.
Over HOU WOULDA THOUGHT ‘s 35-minute runtime ‘WOCKHARDT’ is one of two that stand out from the morass. It’s twinkling keys with Houdini’s auto-tuned lax delivery and short bars create a morose atmosphere regardless of its lyrics. It’s the only song that’s compelling due to his flow, but Houdini’s reluctance to leave that pocket makes him one dimensional. Houdini only offers lax delivery and short bars with unexciting ad-libs, while it’s a graceful dynamic on ‘WOCKHARDT’ it’s sludge everywhere else.
We’ve all seen this dimension and many beyond it. Without intriguing beats, interesting flows, compelling bars, or unique voice HOU WOULDA THOUGHT is just another trap album adrift in a sea of thousands of boilerplate trap albums.