20 January 2023 (released)
21 January 2023
Bronx native and rising rap star, Ice Spice first came to my attention after Cardi B featured on an unofficial remix of Spice’s viral hit ‘Munch (Feelin’ U)’. B’s verse, which she heavily promoted on her Instagram page through various lip-synch inspired montages, saddeningly never came to commercial fruition. Put simply, as much as I really want to add the Cardi version to my ‘gym playlist’, it is not available to stream on Spotify.
Following the burgeoning success of Spice’s musical talent and social media presence, she subsequently signed a major-label deal with Capitol Records which, in my opinion, has the most impressive roster of all the Universal labels. We’re talking mega popstars such as, but not limited to, Katy Perry, Sam Smith and Halsey as well as established RnB/Hip-Hop/rap stars like Aitch and Queen Naija. Under her new deal, Spice has today released her debut Extended Play ‘Like..?’ - a project which was announced only hours before it's official drop.
Based on her early discography, Ice Spice is, in my view, first and foremost a trap artist. However, ‘Like..?’ is not short of sonic versatility. Though the release opens with the drill-infused, lyrically gritty and bass heavy tracks of ‘In Ha Mood’ and ‘Princess Diana’, we are eventually introduced to the Lil Tjay assisted ‘Gangsta Boo’. Without doubt, this is my favourite track on the EP and will undoubtedly be established as a firm ‘fan favourite’. The song is infectiously catchy and emits such an original flair, in spite of the fact that it heavily samples the well-known P. Diddy hit, ‘I Need a Girl (Pt. 2)’. Having said that, those unfamiliar with the hip-hop subgenres of ‘trap’ and ‘drill’ will most likely recognise the interpolation from the UK top-ten dance hit ‘Ferrari’ by James Hype. ‘Gangta Boo’ also arguably depicts a ‘jump out the comfort zone’ for Tjay - who is usually better suited to slow-tempo and moody bass RnB tracks if, of course, his biggest hit ‘Calling My Phone’ with 6LACK is anything to go by. Yet, being the rap professional he is, Tjay effortlessly rises to the challenge by delivering a verse to match the exhilaration and high energy set by Ice. Returning to the hi-hat rich and trap imbued style for the closing tracks (‘Actin A Smoochie’, ‘Bikini Bottom’ and ‘Munch (Feelin’ U)’), Spice readily establishes herself as a ‘one to watch’ in the game.
The only criticism I have of ‘Like..?’ would be its lack of ‘unheard’ music. To be specific, 3 of the 6 tracks are already viral hits in their own right: equating to exactly half of the project. With only ‘Princess Diana’, ‘Gangsta Boo’ and ‘Actin A Smoochie’ not yet being heard by the public or being issued as standalone singles to promote the EP, we are left wanting more music from the up-and-coming superstar. Whilst we might be materially dissatisfied, Spice knows how to captivate her audience and only a 23-year-old newcomer with interminable potential could execute a cliff-hanger to the degree of efficacy to which she has. A solid, solid start for Ice and we’re excited to hear more. Four stars!