Where 2023’s Hard to Love found Moneybagg Yo deep in his thoughts, often exploring trap’s darker themes while willfully faded, SPEAK NOW feels like a reinvention of sorts. The Memphis rap star fixes his gaze here on the pleasures more so than the pain, overtly evident on the hypersexual subject matter that dominates the project. Leading with earned confidence on the booming opening pair “ALL YEAR” and “SPEAK,” he proceeds to pursue extravagances on “TIC TAC TOE” and “TRYNA MAKE SURE.” Clearly he’s out looking for someone to match his freak on “BUSSIN” and the club-ready “TABOO MIAMI,” his lyrics as unapologetically explicit as ever in his sprawling discography. Chris Brown puts his swarthy R&B spin on “DRUNK OFF U,” a metaphorical mixology lesson where the lust is as strong as top-shelf liquor, while Lil Durk keeps it reliably real on the street feast “GANGSTAS RELATE.” Later on, Moneybagg’s fellow Tennessee native Morgan Wallen brings that country grammar to his “WHISKEY WHISKEY” verse and hook contributions.

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