This album was released on April 19th this year. Pivot Gang is Saba’s group, which consists of him & Joseph Chilliams, along with a bunch of other motherfuckers I’ve never heard of. Well, that’s not completely true. I’m not familiar with the other rappers, but I know pretty much all of the producers: daedaePIVOT, squeakPIVOT, and Daoud. The rappers I’m not familiar with are MFnMelo & Frsh Waters. John Walt was also a member of the group, but if you heard Saba’s critically acclaimed 2018 album, you know that he’s unfortunately no longer with us. Wikipedia also has someone named Dam Dam listed as a member, but he doesn’t seem to have any involvement in this project, and I don’t remember him helping with Saba’s first two albums. Apparently the Pivot Gang dropped a mixtape in 2013, but I haven’t listened to it, and I probably never will. Anyway, I think I’m gonna enjoy this project. I liked all the singles I heard from it, and I’m definitely a fan of Saba. It’s also got some promising features. Hopefully I don’t end up disappointed. Every track is produced by daedaePIVOT, except where noted.
1. Death Row performed by MFnMelo, Joseph Chilliams & Saba co-produced by Daoud
This beat is pretty dope. If you’ve heard Saba’s music in the past you should have a pretty solid idea of what this production sounds like. It’s that melodic, Neo-Soulish sound that artists like him, Mick Jenkins & Sylvan LaCue typically rap over. In fact, those two artists are actually featured on this project, which is pretty exciting. Anyway, MFnMelo is on the first verse. I actually liked it a lot. He sounded pretty good. None of the lines are amazing or anything, but they were cool. The vocals from Saba on the hook sounded kind of odd to me at first. The way the vocals are layered just seems a little… I don’t wanna say “discordant,” but something about it just felt off at first. I really like it now though. I just had to get used to it for some reason. The second verse from Joseph Chilliams was really dope. I love how he used Eminem’s “You usin’ way too many napkins” line. Honestly, MFnMelo & Joseph Chilliams rap really similarly. They both had really good similes in their verses. The final verse from Saba was great. He probably had the best verse. It’s not like he completely blew the other two guys outta the water though. These guys are all really similar rappers. Anyway, I enjoyed the song a lot. It’s not amazing or anything, but I don’t have any issues with it really. This is dope.
2. Colbert performed by Joseph Chilliams, Frsh Waters & Saba produced by Daoud & squeakPIVOT
The instrumental on this track is really similar to the previous one. I kinda hope the entire album doesn’t have this melodic aesthetic. I mean, it’d make sense for them to keep the style of the production consistent, but I could definitely see it getting redundant after a few tracks. It’s typical current-day Chicago production. It sounds like Monte Booker, THEMpeople, Cam O’Bi, etc. The sung hook from Joseph Chilliams is solid. The first verse from Frsh Waters was very nondescript. It wasn’t particularly bad though. The second verse from Saba was really great. His flow was nice as hell. Joseph Chilliams was on the final verse. I really liked his melodic delivery. His verse was cool. Saba easily had the best verse on the song. I like this track a lot overall. I think it’s better than the previous track. It’s dope.
3. Mortal Kombat performed by Saba & Joseph Chilliams featuring Kari Faux produced by daedaePIVOT
I’m not that familiar with Kari Faux. I haven’t been crazy about the work I’ve heard from her in the past. I wasn’t a fan of that No Small Talk single she had, but I did like her work on Matt Martians’ debut solo album. Anyway, the beat on this track is fire. It thankfully doesn’t sound too similar to the previous couple of beats. It’s more of a Trap instrumental. It’s a fast paced beat with a lot of heavy bass. I really liked the first verse from Saba. He’s got a great flow. His hook is cool too. The second verse from Joseph Chilliams was actually really dope too. His flow was nice. I appreciated the Mortal Kombat reference. I thought there would be more of that considering the title of the song. Kari Faux’s verse was actually pretty dope too. I like this song a lot. This is definitely my favorite track so far. The beat is dope, and the verses are great. The hook is cool too. This shit is dope af.
4. Hero performed by Saba, Frsh Waters & MFnMelo produced by daedaePIVOT, Daoud & Nascent
The instrumental on this song sounds really similar to that of Shot You Down by Isaiah Rashad. It’s the exact same melody, and it even sounds like they used the same instruments. The sung hook from Saba is fine. The repetitive melody gets old pretty quickly. It’s not too bad though. His verse was cool. Nothing special though. Frsh Waters’ verse was actually pretty dope. I think the reason I wasn’t crazy about Saba’s verse is his delivery. He had a really melodic flow, which sounded a little too similar to the hook for me. MFnMelo’s verse was cool too, but he sounds almost exactly like Frsh Waters to me. If I didn’t know any better and someone told me it was the same guy on the second & third verses I would most likely believe them. Hmm… I’m trying to decide whether or not I actually like this song. I don’t think it’s particularly bad. I got tired of the hook really quickly tho. None of the verses are super impressive, and this kinda makes me wanna just go listen to Shot You Down. I probably won’t be returning to this track in the future. It’s not bad, but I didn’t really care for it. It’s okay.
5. Bad Boys performed by Joseph Chilliams, Saba & MFnMelo featuring Smino produced by daedaePIVOT
This was the third and final single that they released for this album. I listened to it when it came out on April 5th. It’s uh… It’s not good. The Trap production is honestly pretty generic, and I think the hook from Smino is terrible. There are things I like about it though. I’m not crazy about the way Joseph Chilliams structured the first verse, but it had some cool lines. The “Starin’ like a cuck” simile put a smile on my face, and I appreciated the SSX Tricky reference. However, as a whole, I think the verse was a little weak. I wasn’t even really feelin’ the second verse from Saba. I didn’t like the final verse from MFnMelo either. Huh. I guess there really aren’t many things I like about this song, aside from two lines in the first verse. This song sucks to be honest. I didn’t care for the generic production, and the hook from Smino was awful. I think this is a bad song. I’m never gonna listen to it again. It’s wack to me.
6. Bible performed by Saba, Frsh Waters & John Walt produced by daedaePIVOT, Daoud, Immy & T-Jay Beats
The beat on this track is surprisingly average. Well, I guess it’s above average. It’s not really super memorable to me though, which is kind of surprising considering the number of producers that contributed to it. It’s cool though. The first verse from Saba on this track was pretty good. I like his hook. I feel like it lasts a little too long though. The second verse from Frsh Waters was cool. His flow was pretty smooth. It was really slow paced though. The final verse from John Walt was really good. His flow was great. I wasn’t crazy about the way he ended it, but overall it was dope. This song is far from my favorite, but I did enjoy it to some extent. The hook gets old pretty quickly, and the production is nothing to write home about. The verses—particularly from Saba & John Walt—are what make this song enjoyable for me. It’s pretty good.
7. No Vest performed by Joseph Chilliams, MFnMelo & Saba featuring Mick Jenkins produced by daedaePIVOT & squeakPIVOT
This song has another generic, airy Trap beat. It’s not nearly as bad as the one from Bad Boys though. Mick Jenkins’ verse was honestly kind of disappointing. I mean, it was solid. He just didn’t kill it like I would normally expect him to. I guess he was being nice. He probably didn’t wanna murder his friends on their own album. The hook from Saba is shockingly bad. I mean, it’s nowhere near as disgusting as the Smino hook from before, but he just sounds oddly off beat. I’m not sure what happened. I should rephrase that. He’s not off beat. He’s barely on beat though. It’s not on the level of Blueface. It just sounds awkward to me. The second verse from Joseph Chilliams did absolutely nothing for me. It was only 8 bars. It might as well have not even been there. It doesn’t stand out in any way. The final verse from MFnMelo was 12 bars. I appreciated him having more energy than anyone else on the song. Other than his relatively lively delivery it didn’t stand out to me. Mick Jenkins’ verse wasn’t even that impressive to me, but he still ended up having the best performance on the song. I’m not gonna be coming back to this one. I don’t think it’s bad at all. It’s just not very good either. Nothing about it stands out to me. It’s really underwhelming. Again, it’s not wack; however, it’s not really good either. It’s just decent to me.
8. Clark Kent performed by Joseph Chilliams, Saba & MFnMelo produced by daedaePIVOT & squeakPIVOT
This song definitely has the best beat on the album so far in my opinion. It’s got that same melodic aesthetic that most of Saba’s music has. It’s just really well produced. The sung hook from Saba is nothing special. The first verse from Joseph Chilliams was dope. The second verse from Saba is great. The lyrics don’t really stand out to me that much, but his flow and melodic delivery are really nice. Hmm… The final verse from MFnMelo was cool. It just seemed like he was trying to flow like Saba, especially for the last few bars. Anyway, I enjoyed this song overall. It’s not amazing or anything, but I do think it’s one of the better songs on the album. I don’t have any major gripes with it. I think it’s dope.
9. Studio Ground Rules performed by Saba, Frsh Waters & MFnMelo produced by daedaePIVOT & Daoud
This was the second single from this album. I listened to it when it dropped on March 22nd. I like it. The beat’s pretty much more of the same. It’s still good though. It sounds like something J. Cole would rap over, except less flavorless. I like the hook a lot. It’s pretty much just Saba telling whoever’s in the studio not to make their presence known.
Don’t call next on 2K, you not next
Don’t pop up; be low-key ’til we say you can speak
Don’t talk loud ’til we laugh
Oh, you rap? Don’t rap for us
Saba’s actual verse was really great too. Frsh Waters did his thing on the second verse. His voice reminds me a lot of Matik Estrada. MFnMelo’s verse was a lot doper than I was expecting it to be. Not that I think he’s a bad rapper. He just hasn’t really stood out to me much on this album so far. His verse was really good on this track though. Overall, I definitely think this is one of the best tracks on the album, and I see why they chose it as a single. I really don’t have any issues with it. This shit is dope af to me.
10. Edward Scissorhands performed by Joseph Chilliams & Saba featuring Jean Deaux produced by daedaePIVOT & squeakPIVOT
The Trap beat on this track is cool. I guess it’s just as generic as the other Trap instrumentals on this project. I still enjoyed it though. The hook from Joseph Chilliams is okay. He’s telling girls that they don’t have to shave they pussies. The whole first verse is basically him telling girls that they should fuck with him. It was fine. This kinda sounds like a Brockhampton song. Joseph reminds me of Ameer Vann on this track. The only difference is he isn’t using that same flow that Ameer recycled on 90% of his verses. Saba’s verse was very underwhelming. Jean Deaux easily had the best verse. I love her. I mean, I don’t really listen to her music that much. I should probably check out more of her stuff. I just think she’s cute as hell. Anyway, this song isn’t very good to me. The generic production got old really quickly, and the first two verses from Joseph & Saba were pretty lackluster. I didn’t care for the hook either. Jean Deaux is the only aspect of the song I really enjoyed a little bit. That’s not enough to make this song worth coming back to for me though. It’s not a bad song, but there’s no replay value in it for me. I think it’s mediocre.
11. Mathematics performed by Joseph Chilliams & Saba featuring femdot. produced by daedaePIVOT
The beat on this track is really dope. It feels more like an interlude than a full song. It’s just a little over two minutes long. I like it though. Once again, the feature had the best performance in my opinion. I’m not familiar with this femdot. guy, but his flow was great. I like the way the song is structured. They’re all just trading quick 8 bar verses back and forth. I think Joseph Chilliams had the most underwhelming flow, but he had some of the best lyrics in my opinion. I really liked his opening line on this song. Anyway, it’s a good song. I don’t really have any major gripes with it. It’s not amazing or anything, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s dope to me.
12. Jason Statham, Pt. 2 performed by Joseph Chilliams, Saba & MFnMelo produced by squeakPIVOT & daedaePIVOT
This was the first single released from this album, and I also listened to this one the day it dropped. I’m just gonna come out and say that this is the best song on the album. I have zero gripes with it. I love the production. It’s like a mixture of that airy Trap sound they have on some songs and the melodic Neo-Soul sound they have on others. I really love the opening verse from Joseph Chilliams too. His flow was real smooth. It was a really good intro to the song. The hook from Saba is easily my favorite part of the song. That shit is catchy as FUCK. I love it. The second verse from MFnMelo was great too. His flow was nice. The lyrics didn’t really stand out to me that much, but he sounded really good. So yeah. I love this track. This shit is fire. It’s dope af.
13. Carnival featuring Sylvan LaCue & Benjamin Earl Turner produced by Daoud
This was the song I was looking forward to hearing the most due to the feature from Sylvan LaCue. Anyway, this is the only song on the album that features every rapper that is currently in Pivot Gang. The first verse from Joseph Chilliams was kinda short, but it was cool. It wasn’t anything special, but it certainly wasn’t bad. I like the beat on this track a lot. It’s really dope. Saba’s verse was really good. Sylvan LaCue’s verse was awesome. He sounds right at home over this jazzy production. He definitely had the best verse on the song. Frsh Waters & MFnMelo weren’t bad, but they didn’t really stand out much to me. Benjamin Earl Turner’s verse was awesome too. It’s funny how the two features had the best verses on the whole song. That’s been the case for a lot of these tracks though. Anyway, I think this is a really good song. I like the way it’s structured, but it seems odd to me that the only song with every rapper in the group also has two features who end up outshining them. I feel like they could’ve concluded this project a little better. I don’t necessarily mean with a better song. I just mean they could’ve ended it with like a signature single or something. I don’t know how to explain it. I do like this song though. I enjoyed it quite a bit. I think it’s dope.
This is a good album. It’s definitely a flawed project, but I enjoyed it overall. I don’t think I’d call myself a fan of Pivot Gang. This is gonna sound harsh, but it kinda just feels like this album is by Saba and some random niggas he’s friends with. There aren’t any songs without him, and he almost always had a better performance than any of the other guys in the group. Also, most of the features had better performances than the actual people in the group, which is kind of a problem. I was never looking forward to hearing anyone aside from Saba himself and some of the features. Don’t get me wrong; none of them are bad rappers. It just feels redundant because they don’t really stand out that much. It’s like an album by Saba plus a bunch of Saba clones who aren’t quite as good as him. The music is still enjoyable for me though. I think the production was pretty solid aside from a few songs here and there. The rapping was slightly above average for the most part. If Saba wasn’t on this project, I wouldn’t have listened in the first place. I don’t think it really worked out very well whenever they tried to go for a Trap sound. I only liked one song where they did that. It’s a flawed album, but I’m glad I listened to it because I was entertained by a large enough portion of it. It’s pretty good.
Favorite Song: Jason Statham, Pt. 2
Least Favorite Song: Bad Boys