June 24, 2024

Since the genre’s inception, rappers have boasted of their ascent from the streets to success. On the outset though, they narrate their trials and tribulations, putting us in their scenarios. Rapper Cumlaude’s album, “Goals 2”, is drenched in autobiographical detail, repeatedly drawing a line from her daily experiences – personal to her grind. But unlike its contemporaries the album makes a seemingly recognizable arc feel fresh, in part because of Cumlaude’s uniquely female perspective and experience. Throughout, she invokes familiar hip-hop imagery of money, hustle and grind as symbols of dominance and against-the-odds ascendancy. However she also leaves space for relationships, love and sex.

The album lays out Cumlaude’s personal narrative while also proving her to be a deeper, more diverse talent than she’s previously let on in other releases. Alongside more alternative bangers like “Black&White” and “All I Want”, this album leaves space for scene-setting epics like the hypnotic “CoCo Blue” and “High”, as well as R&B-influenced jams “Push It” and “Rollie”.

Lyrically, Cumlaude’s tough swagger is deepened by moments of introspection: “One” reckons with the side effects of being boldly unique as a person, while “Show Me” turns up with moral gravitas and a focused vision.

The standout “Want Me” has a bubbly, playful lilt that’s totally removed from the other tracks. With its stop-start groove, the effervescent verses seems deeply connected to Cumlaude’s thoughts on her partners’ behavioral patterns; it feels both of a piece with the album and totally different than her other tracks.

Taken together, these songs present Cumlaude as an artist confident enough to expand her sound away from the mainstream bullshit, smart enough not to drift too far from her alternative wheelhouse, and sound overly experimental.

Hip-hop’s personal stories resonate because they allow listeners to imagine themselves as scrappers, fighters, and winners. Cumlaude knows this, and for as much as this album is about her own persona, it also seeks to empower her audience, especially women.

In a single line, she expresses a particularly feminine vulnerability, acknowledges any insecurities, and doubles down on her uncompromising tenacity. Cumlaude is ready to climb her way up from the bottom, and the track, “I Just Want 2 Win” is a soundtrack for anyone who dreams of doing the same.

With a solid showing of skill and finesse that most may not have foreseen coming, it is clear that this rapstress is a very raw talent who flexes her lyrical muscles and indeed proves she is more than capable of being a female staple in the rap game.

The album, “Goals 2”, is vulnerable and ferocious, lewd and introspective, with more intelligent music, more blunt-force charisma, and more range than anyone might expect from an independent female rapper.


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