FRVRGOLD, the name of Big James and Kent’s collaborative effort sounds like a continuation of James’ latest project, NASAGOLD, which garnered praise upon its release in December 2016. But it’s clear from track one that this isn’t a continuation. If anything, it’s the revolution of James’ sound and the culmination of his maturity as an artist. This project symbolizes both James and Kent’s lifestyle, which is consumed by thoughts of ambition, money, women, and success. Presumably the gold standard, and it’s a mark they mistakenly fall too short from.
Producer Sean Starks displays his versatility as James’ go-to instrumentalist, as he shifts from the dark, trap indulged beats he’s shown on previous projects, to a more minimalistic and poetic feel. Though the FRVRGOLD’s sound still resembles James’ past work, Starks orchestrates the production for both James and Kent to create. It’s highlighted on “All I Know,” which features a Floetry sample that’s reminiscent of the neo-soul era that consumed the mid-1990s. James is great in this pocket, delivering sharp lyrics to piece Kent’s melodic vocals together to create a modern reflection of his influences.
The chemistry these two artists have is clear, and it’s one that shines sporadically through the EP. On “Straight to It,” Kent’s voice fits seamlessly between the instrumental and James’ laidback vocals. This song represents the hustler’s anthem, much of what James’ content is based on. This is a solid intro, and one that sets the tone for the rest of the project. Despite these moments of succession, however, much of their collaborative effort suffers from doll lyrics and repetitive vocal delivery. Kent’s cadence has no variation, as he sounds the same on each of the EP’s songs.
FRVRGOLD isn’t bad, but there’s not a lot to take from the project. The production’s hit or miss; there isn’t enough James; and yes, I know it’s a collaborative EP but Kent isn’t strong enough to carry the bulk of the project. His vocals are repetitive, boring, and again, there isn’t enough James! He’s the highlight of the project, for he sounds the most comfortable over this production. And though the project’s cohesive, there’s no stand out tracks like on NASAGOLD, which possessed the playback value this project lacks.