EL TORO 2 is a sequel to the Louisville MC’s 2019 breakthrough project, but it’s also illustrative of how far he has come as a songwriter and artist. The growl, the dead-eyed stare, and the rumbling delivery remain, but he supplements these now-signature traits with catchy choruses, lavish celebrations of success, and honest looks at the exhilarating highs and depressing lows of fame. In short, it showcases a new era of Gee: a more mature, versatile rapper unafraid of stretching his perceived comfort zone into uncharted territories. Gee still knows what got him here, though. “TURN THE STREETS UP” finds the artist back in his classical period, queueing up a bass-heavy beat with bleary synths that sound like too many long nights watching the corner. Gee drops some instantly classic lines, like when he laments that he’s “smoking cigarettes in the foreign, burning my seat leather.” Elsewhere, though, Gee tries on new flows, or, as he probably would put it, adds some fresh minks to the closet. “A MOMENT WITH GOTTI” is a classic mentor-mentee cut, with Gee recruiting his new label boss (Yo Gotti) to reflect on how far they’ve each come in the game. “A MOMENT WITH GEE,” though similar in spirit, finds the MC spitting over a dusty soul sample that sounds more familiar to the Griselda universe than EST’s. But that’s what makes EL TORO 2 so effective: Gee spends the duration of the project reminding why he’s so beloved while giving ample new reasons to bump him up the rap power rankings.

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