It only took one day for Iamsu!’s debut album, Sincerely Yours, to reach iTunes’ top album charts, a feat which is, quite frankly, surprising. Though the album is not a flop, it’s not a work of artistic genius either. There is nothing about this album that differentiates it from his previous seven albums, and many of the songs on it sound alike. The Richmond rapper’s previous mixtapes, Kilt II and Million Dollar Afro (featuring Problem) easily outshine Sincerely Yours in both depth and ingenuity, and while there are some singles, like “Only That Real”, that are solid bangers, the album on the whole doesn’t leave much of an impression, unfortunately.
The production quality of the album is on point and the cover art is amusing, too. But if fans were expecting something new, or even inventive, from the HBK Gang member, they’re going to be sorely disappointed. Compared to his other works, this album lacks intensity and comes across as glib and hasty. The over-amped club bangers are monotonous and the lyrics do little to make the songs stand out. There are a few wildcard tracks that are sprinkled conveniently at the end of the album, but though the change of pace is refreshing, they don’t mesh cohesively with the rest of the work.
The album starts with an “Introduction” and there is both an “Interlude” and “Interlude II” that follow later. They range in length from one minute and 40 seconds to two minutes and 40 seconds and all three of them have distinct choruses. This begs the question: what qualifies these tracks as introductions or interludes? Aren’t they just regular ol’ songs? They certainly don’t mark shifts in the sonic flow of the album, so are they just songs that Iamsu! couldn’t think of titles for? The ordering of songs is also a bit of a mess—more of a rollercoaster ride through various tempos and sounds, rather than a cohesive, smooth flow from one track to the next.
“Introduction” starts the album off on a dreamy, hazy note that is very much the sonic equivalent of the album’s cover art. It’s a new sound for Iamsu!, without even the slightest hint of hyphy, but it’s an odd choice for the first song since it does nothing to set the tone for the rest of the album. With the exception of “Only That Real,” the first half of the album is a set of standard, sing-songy rap songs the likes of which you won’t hear at a party, but might listen to on your own at home. Songs like “Girls” and “No Secret” are unimpressive and easily forgettable, and even some of the better songs, like “Sincerely Yours,” are so bogged down with sound effects that it makes your head hurt.
One of the strongest songs on the album is “Stop Signs,” which is impressive both for its instrumentals and lyrics. It’s one of the few songs in which Iamsu! spits fast and his rapid-fire vocals blend well with the slower beat and simple instrumentals. The double entendre chorus is also pretty clever: “I don’t see no stop signs / When I see green I go.”
The middle tracks are where you’ll find the outliers and more experimental songs on the album. “Problem” is a summery, old school slap that sounds like something you might hear from Dom Kennedy or other So-Cal rappers. “Ascension” is a bizarre mash up of rap and a conversation with a distressed female, and “Martina” is an instrumental heavy, slightly jazzy track with an underlying Indian-influence. All three of these tracks are clumped together, which seems to make sense considering as how they don’t have anything in common with any of the other songs on the album, including each other.
As the album progresses, the pace picks up and the hyphy trickles through. Here’s where you’ll find the bangers with the boom and the base timed just right so that you can shake your booty while at the club. They’re typical Iamsu! tracks, with their references to the Bay and shout outs for his crew, even if they all start sounding the same after awhile. “T.W.D.Y.” is noteworthy if only for the fact that E-40 and Too Short have verses on the track, but the chorus (“We the last of the real”) is a pushing it a bit far. The album ends with “Hipster Girls” (a bonus track), which is not a new song and thus a bit of a head scratcher. Since it was already released on Kilt II, it’s unclear why Iamsu! included it on this album, but maybe it’s a good thing that he did because it has all the wit and humor that’s missing from the rest of the album.