Co-member Sage the Gemini may had eclipsed the rest of the H.B.K. group on a mainstream level, but the true heart of the group laid within IAMSU. On his first proper debut, IAMSU delivers one of the best west coast albums to come out of an already legendary year. While Sage crafted the soundtrack for multiple college parties, IAMSU puts together an extremely honest project repping his city in every way possible. Even though that is the case, the songs here still are anthemic.
One of the biggest songs to come out of the album is “I Love My Squad,” which encapsulates all those ideas. The sound of the song is hyphy revivalism, with IAMSU and the H.B.K. bringing their own spin on it. We hear IAMSU showing love for crew, directly shouting out the H.B.K. group. Its a song that is equally personal, yet also applicable to any listener that loves the people around them.
Marques Roberts delivers the intro on the album, where he sets up the other ideas of the album. Which is to stay true to self, and respect the hustle & grind to take you to the next level. Its a perfect set up for the next song “Ain’t No Secret,” where he reinforces the ideas of the intro. He easily could’ve let the first song be “I Love My Squad,” a heavy party anthem, yet he takes his time & raps his hustle in a more lowkey fashion. Deciding to take a more humbling route, and repping his city on top of that showcases that he’s doing this for more than just a check.
Going from there, “Only That Real” is a celebratory track where he indulges in his party life. Plenty of tracks here go into that, like H.B.K. assisted tracks like “What U Bout” with P-Lo. “Girls” is a bouncy ballad to women, incorporating these 80s drum hits occasionally that give a throwback feel. He details a chill night of seeing his people with the woman, while trying to build a greater relationship with them.
His track “T.W.D.Y.” gets the cosign from Bay Area legends Too $hort & E-40. IAMSU’s performance starts with “We’re the last of the real,” knowingly establishing himself amongst the other prolific figures on the track. Too $hort’s verse is as cold as ever, telling others to stop namedropping Mac Dre, who’s name became even more popular in death. E-40’s verse is him in peak form, giving a lesson in Bay Area slang accompanied by his versatile flow.
Some tracks here take a much more introspective side, such as “Sincerely Yours.” He details so much of his personal family life, and how his grind for more gave him purpose to do greater. Everything he does is for a reason, using his own music as a therapy session. We see more of this on “Problems,” where he dives into the systemic issue found throughout the country. While this made have been brought upon by a weed high, it lets him reflect on his various thoughts on society and the others around him.
The album is one of the most honest projects to come out of the West Coast at the time. That’s really because that’s who IAMSU is, a person that will lay his life flat out as possible to let you know how it is with no fluff. While a lot of the West Coast music at the time was focused on these party anthems, IAMSU was able to blur the line. He could tell his own story and still make bangers. Due to that alone, this album is a must listen to hear how he was able to achieve it.