Review: ‘Sweeter Dreams’

Ramriddlz’s provides a 12-track hit and miss for his debut album.

Toronto’s Ramriddlz is arguably music’s most nonsensical artist, mixing his overtly-sexual braindead lyrics with dancehall beats (before dancehall became trendy in this case). Similar to Young Thug, he’s one of those unintelligible ‘trash’ artists that you either love or hate. But it works for him, because he has his own sound that’s irritably catchy once you digest the bucket-loads of Auto-Tune and silly delivery.

Clocking in at a speedy 40 minutes, Sweeter Dreams presents itself as more sentimental compared to his previous projects. Lyrically he comes off heartbroken which matches the production for the most part, evident on the opener “Melanincholy”. The most emotionally powerful performance by Ramriddlz is on the title track, on which Ramriddlz is perhaps the most romantic (I use that word loosely) he’s ever sounded.

The most upbeat track of the lot, “Habaesha”, is the most melodic and infectious track of the album, even though it sounds incredibly similar to an older Ramriddlz song, “Left, Right”. Once you get adjusted to Tommy Lee Sparta’s voice, “Scotch Bonnet” proves why this island sound is so popular right now. Sonically it’s hard to not enjoy. Even Ramriddlz’s whispery delivery for a few lines is a gratifying element to the song (“L-O-V-E when I see your body”, “Mamacita, girl you’re too bonita”).

At times the production is bubbly, like on “No Amore” and “Scotch Bonnet”, or skeletal and led by 808s like on “Melanincholy”. These minor differences across the standout songs is what separates those summery tracks to the mellow tracks.

Unfortunately towards the back end of the album you get a string of mediocre tracks that aren’t memorable. The similarity in production makes songs like “Oceans” forgettable, or is too experimental for Ramriddlz’s usual sound to be enjoyable, cases in question being “Woke Up” and “Summer Bummer”. Mixing that with their forgettable melodies and weak hooks and that pretty much explains the downfalls of half of this album.

The most annoying aspect of Sweeter Dreams is the way Ramriddlz repeatedly recycles lyrical concepts. “Girl you too konjo” turns up on two separate tracks, the pussy was this, the pussy was that, and not to mention the whole “Hey look I’m bilingual!” metaphors. The sole subject matter is reminiscing over an ex, which is excusable considering you don’t listen to Ramriddlz for lyrics, but his signature corny song concepts (“M.D.M.Bae”, “Mi amore said she don’t love me no amore”) makes you wonder how much of it can be get away with before it becomes tedious for fans – even though that’s his whole gimmick. For me, there’s too much of it on this project alone.

On top of that, the song structures are evidently basic. Each track clocks in at 3 minutes and is made up of two short verses and a 4-line hook. With some songs this structure works but for others it becomes painfully repetitive.

Luckily the album ends on a good note to salvage its second half with the closer “Worst Love”. Ramriddlz’s whispering delivery accompanied with the island beat brings back the vibes of opening tracks like “Melanincholy” and “M.D.M.B”.

Overall Sweeter Dreams doesn’t meet its peak potential in comparison to EPs like Venis. For every enjoyable song there’s a forgettable letdown. Stronger song structures and better hooks, and maybe even some guest appearances to add some diversity from Ramriddlz’s usual gimmicks, could have saved the weak second half. For future projects Ramriddlz needs to get more creative and less repetitive to surround the catchier, enjoyable tracks.

Rating: 5 / 10

Favourite tracks:  “Scotch Bonnet”, “Sweeter Dreams”, “Worst Love”, “Habaesha”

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