READ TIME: 2 MINS
Producer TOIL and rapper Leellamarz team up once more for the third instalment of their TOYSTORY albums.
Lullabies, fast beats and crude yet addictive lyrics, TOYSTORY3 maintains the youthful energy showcased in the duo’s previous collaborative albums, TOYSTORY (2018) and TOYSTORY2 (2020). With songs such as, ‘STORY’, ‘Last Chance’ featuring YUMDDA and ‘Don’t Do That’, TOIL and Leellamarz display their friendship and synergy in producing music together, by freely expressing themselves via various genres and styles.
Incorporating songs such as, ‘Separation Anxiety’ featuring JAEHA, ‘Never Ending Story’ with DynamicDuo, ‘1,2,3’ and ‘2AM’ featuring CAMO, adds depth to TOYSTORY3 through slower tempos and sentimental lyrics. However, each of these tracks emulate a different vibe thanks to TOIL’s production; the melodic keyboard and riffing electric guitar in ‘Separation Anxiety’ creates a comforting sound, while the strumming of an acoustic guitar alternating with piano keys and string instrumentals in ‘Never Ending Story’ produce an inspirational, movie-esque track; for ‘1,2,3’, TOIL uses MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) instrumentals and panning (distributing sound signal strength to the left and right spectrum of a stereo) to emphasise Leellamarz’s lyrics and sense of longing, whereas ‘2AM’ featuring CAMO, uses simple, repetitive instrumentals at 65 BPM to allow for Leellamarz and CAMO to flex their autotune assisted vocals.
Calling upon prominent rappers to feature on some of their tracks including, GARY, The Quiett and MC META, the duo makes use of heavy beats, reminiscent of old-school hip-hop. ‘Aftermath’ featuring GARY, is a simplistic, melodic track which reflects on one’s mentality post break-up, whereas ‘B.B.B’ sees Leellamarz and The Quiett rap about a “Big booty lady” with the addictive hook “엉덩이가 큰 그녀는 내가 좋댔어 (She's got a big ass. She likes me)”, while ‘Flower Age’, with MC META, has Latin inspired instrumentals similar to that of ‘Hey Lady’ from TOYSTORY2.
Listen to TOYSTORY3 here:
As much a part of the TOYSTORY albums as TOIL and Leellamarz, Skinny Brown makes his third appearance in ‘Zero Coke’, following ‘Nombre’ (TOYSTORY2) and ‘Way’ (TOYSTORY). Using metaphors to explain how “Life is like a Zero Coke/There’s no sugar, there’s no fun”, the track uses jazz and blues inspired instrumentals which one could listen to on a Leellamarz album.
Closing TOYSTORY3 is ‘Iris’ which mirrors the opening song ‘STORY’ in creating an otherworldly, almost dream-like state for the listener. Pitch-shifted (audio that has been lowered or increased in pitch) percussion and limited autotune on Leellamarz's vocals ensure that the listener remains floating. As the song draws to an end, whilst being accompanied by percussion and background vocalisations, the rapper's vocals take the forefront and emphasise the lyric, “I will never let you down baby”.
Ultimately, TOYSTORY3 continues the narrative created by its predecessors and maintains the fun, youthful vibes. However, due to meme-worthy lyrics, repetitive production techniques, and a reliance on auto-tune and popular music trends, the album feels unimaginative and becomes comparable to other works by TOIL and Leellamarz, whether it be the TOYSTORY albums or solo productions. As the third instalment of the TOYSTORY albums this approach has become overused and unsurprising, in the future I hope the duo explore a different avenue, moving away from the TOYSTORY narrative and presenting the listener with something fresh and new.
- Catherine Parker