My introduction to Key! was on last year’s excellent Fathers Are The Curse tape, which bridged the gap between Atlanta street rap (his catchiest song yet, “Guess Who”) and more whimsical, almost twee-verging touches (the FKi-produced “I Like” sounded like Andrew Bird’s trap side project). No One Is Ready II is a more easily digestable, though less ambitious, project following up last year’s NOIR; it’s a concise six tracks, entirely produced by frequent collaborator Trap Money Benny. The fanciful instrumentation from FATC is drastically toned down, returning to a sound that, though still experimental, fits more neatly into the current Atlanta scene; the production on “OPB” and “I Can’t” evokes a lusher, more fleshed-out take on Zaytoven’s style. Meanwhile, Key!’s M.O. seems to be proving that even though he doesn’t make your typical Atlanta street shit in terms of lyrical content, he’s still hard; his delivery here sits somewhere between the tough-guy melodicism of Ferg-via-Bone Thugs and Future at his most lyrically intricate, but his specific self-possessed wittiness is wholly his own. NOIR2 is more of a snack to tide us over until the next release than a full-fledged project, but I’ll take it.
Highlights: On the casually spiteful “Retaliate,” he pronounces nonchalant “nonchalant-é” and gives the sage(ish) advice: If they try to make you feel small, turn around and make ‘em feel small.
WTF: There’s a strong Yeezus tour-style rant at the end of “It’s Me!,” with a heavily autotuned Key! dropping gems like All we do is love God, do drugs, and prevail.