“I Think I Have a Problem, But I fuck With It,” by Max Gertler
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In the age of the internet rapper, it can be hard to show a realistic image of a piece yourself through a mixtape. Max Gertler’s first full length project, with a total of 16 songs, clocking 48 minutes, reads like a conversation between conflicting sides of a drug diluted subconscious, and breaks the mold of easy, flashy, yet ultimately shallow, music so commonly found on the ‘#rap’ section of Soundcloud. The production is murky and reverb heavy, yet comes across as coherent and hits hard– like a collection of Drake instrumentals that have had a one night stand with lean. This sound serves well for the concept of this idea-driven tape, about the circles that appear in life when it gets stagnant despite ephemeral changes.
While the intro track, Circles, features some corny dialogue about these cycles, “circles, like they’re just so… round and even… I feel like we all are circles,” Max manages to bring the driving theme of the album into the light through a few introspective verses which get fleshed out in Carousels. Max raps about the stagnation of living life when running around doing the same things, often involving substance-fueled nights. Here, the lyrics become more dynamic, accepting that life is impossible to simply stop living, and focusing on making things right between people he is close to, namely his parents. The tone shifts from an immature viewpoint of life to genuine introspection where he tries to make sense of his motives and find what really matters to him. The third song, Dangerous, looks at the danger of these circles in the eye, “Only got drive when I’m drunk and I’m high now, and you know that that sh**s dangerous.” But what is worse: living a life that is objectively ‘better’ by some insignificant standard, or living with a drive towards something?
On $tinky Jone’s Interlude, Max gets invited rather crudely to a party– that’s about it. But this does provide a shift into the next section of the record: the party. With Ceasar spitting on a few verses, The Free takes on the first feature and sets the stage with heavy auto tune and a laid back beat, featuring gun cocks and pulsating claps, for the next few songs pertaining to ‘the turnup’. The next few tracks become more extroverted, yet stay real and down to earth, touching on family, drugs, relationships, and fleeting happiness– all over flashy instrumentals.
The next act of ITIHAPBIFWI opens as Max goes to sleep and starts to dream. Bonnaroovian Groove hits pleasantly with rhythmic verses coupled with reflective tones, all over a swung and light instrumental. The following track opens over a clip from Rick and Morty about ‘getting sh*t together’ and being happy with being happy. When Max wakes up, head pounding, the circle becomes realized and starts again. At this point the instrumentals stray from the archetype established by the beginning of the album, throwing sax synths and singing samples at the listener. In some way, aside from features from Goldwood, Austin Rapbaum, and Dean Christensen, the second half has already been heard before in the first half, but not in an overwhelmingly blatant way that compromises the listenability of the songs.
The project weaves together introversion, extroversion, and many things in between, to give a window into an interesting, young rapper’s life, while staying very fun to listen to.
Written by Ryan Gottlieb //