Chicago has the Voice. Atlanta has the Hero. And now Detroit has the Face.
On Friday (Jan. 28), emerging motor city superstar Babyface Ray dropped his highly-anticipated album, Face — blessing fans with 20 brand new tracks showcasing his vocally captivating, half-awake delivery with ruthless nonstop punchlines.
Already existing in the “your favorite rappers’ favorite rapper” category, this new project makes a strong case for Babyface Ray as one of the most original and compelling new acts in the game — with Rolling Stone already labeling it one of the best projects of the year… in January.
Overall, Face is a hugely entertaining, well-constructed and a cohesive body of work from Babyface Ray. Throughout the project, Ray strikes a thoughtful and tightly executed balance between experimenting with new sounds and the classic Face that fans know and love.
Face scratches the itch for fans who crave that gritty, iconic Detroit sound evident in tracks like “Steak N Lobster,” “Mob,” “Palm Angels, Palms Itching” and “Richard Flair” — pulling no punches as he walks over bass-heavy Detroit beats with mesmerizing onbeat and offbeat flows.
Recounting past capers and calmly explaining why he’s better than you in every way, songs like “Me, Wife & The Kids,” “Idols,” “Needed Some Love” as well as the album’s lead single “Sincerely Face” feature the smooth-talking Face gliding over weirdly groovy, nontraditional production — effortlessly putting together some of the most original, frequently jaw-dropping bars and impossible phrases you’ve ever heard.
And then of course there’s “6 Mile Show” featuring Icewear Vezzo — yet another epic link-up between two of Detroit’s grimiest lyricists. Following up on their now-iconic joint tracks in “Champions” and “The Sit Down,” both Ray and Vezzo have positioned themselves at the epicenter of the blossoming and decidedly polarizing Michigan rap scene.
On Face, Ray does more than just cater to his fans, which surely would have been enough to satisfy his core audience addicted to his unapologetically unorthodox style. While he does that in spades, he also shows he’s got other tastes on tap. On “Seduction” and “Go Yard,” we a first-ever look at a melodic Face, electing for a more onbeat flow as he delivers the same irreverent bars with a few simple, catchy melodies wrapped in autotune.
On “Blood, Sweat, and Tears,” Babyface delivers a surprisingly touching chorus reminding himself and others that “this ain’t come overnight” — contrasting G Herbo’s aggressive Chicago flow to create a powerful collab between two of the Midwest’s best.
“Dancing with the Devil,” the project’s other lead single, is another standout moment for the Detroit emcee. Its uniquely dramatic production and immersive cinematic visual sets the stage for a knockout, uncharacteristically introspective verse from Face. At one point, Ray contemplates, “I did everything they ask, how am I the villain?” — as the perfectly arranged hook by Landstrip Chip and a killer verse from Pusha T ties it all together.
There’s also the incredibly unexpected Yung Lean feature on “Overtime” — which at first sounds like an elaborate joke in reference to one of Ray’s favorite pastimes. However, it turns out to be a really interesting blend between the somber crooning of Yung Lean’s chorus, a piano-led Detroit beat and Face’s choppy, offbeat flow.
To accompany the release of the project, Babyface Ray dropped the visual for the opening track “My Thoughts 3 / Pop’s Prayer,” a sentimental song built around pitched-up sampling of OneRepublic’s notalgia-inducing “Apologize” (although Rolling Stone seems to think this is Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin”) — serving as both a victory lap and to set the tone for the rest of the project as a serious piece of art.
In the music video that dropped on the same day, we see Face rocking an impressive designer coat collection as he hits every part of his native Detroit. Posted up everywhere from the lake to the trenches to downtown, he then joins his collective Wavy Gang at the dinner table for “Pop’s Prayer” of protection and prosperity. For the normally irreverent and braggadocious Face, the decision to open on a more serious note (including a full minute of spoken word prayer) is a bit of a risk, but when coupled with the visual, there’s no question that it paid off.
On the closing track, “Motown Music,” Ray ties a bow on the album with a deceptively simple beat and a gentle catchy chorus, dropping one final gem as he rides off into the sunset.
“Tryna feed the team. But it’s crowded in the kitchen.
If you was in my shoes. N****s prolly woundn’t have did it.
Ima get this money, Stay humble.
I could move wherever I’m from the jungle.
They love what you doing, they don’t love you.
Any time I meet a plug, I be pluggin n****s.
Just to show em that it’s love, pop out thuggin with em.
Ain’t around for hard times but they clubbin with you.”“Motown Music” – Babyface Ray
A superteam of producers and features were assembled to put together this modern classic, many of whom reported to Camp Face somewhere in the desert as pictured in the above behind-the-scenes clip released earlier last week.
When it comes to Babyface Ray, his unique beat selection is just as much a part of his sound as his iconic vocals. For Face, he managed to recruit some of the biggest producers in the game and secure the most unorthodox and/or Detroit-style beats they had in the stash — boasting literal cheat codes of contributiors from DJ Esco, Southside, 808 Mafia, ATL Jacob, Hoodrich Keem, Space, Flea, Doc Playboi, Pooh Beatz, Antt Beatz, OG Parker, Romano, and somehow even more.
While Babyface Ray surely provides all the necessary starpower, he also pulled together an all-star cast of features from legends of the game in Pusha T, Wiz Khalifa, and G Herbo, fellow leaders of the new Detroit scene in 42 Dugg and Icewear Vezzo — and the surprising and well-placed features from Landstrip Chip and Yung Lean.
He not only delivered wholeheartedly on Face, but showcased an impressively wide range of sounds, high-polished production and a level of maturity that is unique to his chracater. While his core fan-base, with an acquired taste for the divisive Detroit style, will undoubtedly flock to Ray’s latest effort, Babyface Ray continues to exceed expectations — planting the seeds for a long career and setting himself up for a serious run at mainstream acclaim.
Listen to Babyface Ray’s ‘Face’ Below