First Impressions: Theophilus London – Bebey

Theophilus London is a 32 year old Trinidadian-born rapper and singer, who despite releasing a constant stream of projects over the last 12 years has never quite blown up and reached mainstream status. Theophilus released a mixtape each year from 2008-2010 without much success, but finally started to gain a little traction in February of 2011 when he released his debut EP ‘Lovers Holiday’ on Warner Brothers Records. In July of that same year he followed that up by releasing his full length debut album ‘Timez Are Weird These Days’. He started gaining a bit more buzz again in 2012 with the release of his single ‘Big Spender’. By 2013 he had sufficient buzz to build up some hype for his next album, titled ‘Vibes’ the album finally dropped in 2014 and was his most successful project yet, boasting big name features such as Kanye West (and when I got into Theophilus). In 2014 he also dropped the second instalment of his Lovers Holiday series, then spent the next few years dropping a slew of singles without anything really sticking. He dropped another mixtape in 2018 titled ‘Nights B4 Bebey’, and then his third Lovers Holiday EP in 2019.

That brings us up to now! On January 17th 2020 Theophilus released his third full length album ‘Bebey’, with 13 tracks and a range of features from all corners of the music world. Prior to the album Theophilus released a few singles; Revenge in 2016, Bebey & Only You in 2018, and Whiplash & Cuba in 2019. Below I’m going to review the album in 2 sections, first will be my track by track thoughts, which’ll be informal and unedited, and then afterwards will be my views on the album as a whole. I’ll include some links to listen to the album at the end, enjoy!

Track By Track Review

1. Leon (ft. Kristian Hamilton) – The autotuned singing and the production sound Kanye like but in a good way. The little rap section wasn’t too enjoyable. Beat is average for the most part. Song has a good summer vibe, but falls flat. Drags on far too long without changing up much at all

2. Marchin’- Real happy vibes, love the triumphant brass instrumentation. Has a slight reggae vibe in both the production and vocal delivery. Actually overall the whole song has this real laid back reggae vibe, and does it well. Not my kind of song, no real exciting or standout parts, but is a decent reggae song

3. Bebey – This is the third beat in a row that gives off these strong summer vibes. Is like these laid back beach vibes mixed with Mario Party, love the vibe. The rapping is an amazing touch, flows great in the beat and has quite an enjoyable delivery, changes things up a bunch too. The melodies Theophilus belts out towards the end sound great as well. Song is really fun all the way through and never gets too repetitive, loved it

4. Only You (ft. Tame Impala) – This one has this real poppy 80s feel to it, both in the production and the vocals, aces that sound though. The singing was quite pleasant throughout, but wasn’t really exciting at all. I do enjoy the funky production on this though, is almost disco like

5. Cuba – The way the song fades in is done really well, but the beat itself is another fairly simple poppy vibe. Theo’s raps are really impressive on this, his flows are solid, his delivery is more confident than ever, and his rhyme schemes are great. Enjoyed the hook on this one too, and the beat actually changes up a lot as the song progresses, is super well crafted. Great song!

6. Give You (ft. Gemaine) – Much more interesting beat initially on this one, has this ‘Nicki Minaj – Anaconda’ feel to it. The rapping on the verse was great, nothing overly impressive but the flows are solid and he rides the beat really well. Love the r&b hook, has amazing melodies and is really catchy. Bass hits real hard after the hook and it sounds awesome. Interesting song but a good one

7. Seals (ft. Lil Yachty & Ian Isiah) – More Kanye vibes but from Lil Yachty this time, actually sounds fantastic though of the glossy atmospheric beat. Production is impeccable, sounds so beautiful and grand yet so clean and crisp. Didn’t like when someone was speaking subtly over the top of Yachty. Song drags on way too much overall. The guy at the end sounds like Supa Bwe

8. Whiplash (ft. Tame Impala)- Has an 80s pop vibe again at times, probably due the combination of Theophilus & Tame Impala. Hook is quite average, the raps are pretty mediocre with basic flows and rhymes throughout. Is a nice contrast to the rest of the song, but the rap verses aren’t long enough. Interesting song but didn’t enjoy this one

9. Whoop Tang Flow – Interesting beat, quite intriguing. Has this synth that sounds like someone playing a violin incorrectly. More basic flows from Theo but some decent bars and it suits this production better than the last. Raekwon comes in with this real demanding delivery. His verse is too short but is great while it lasts, great bars and some real impressive flows. Hook is okay, on the fence overall

10. Pretty – Back to the beachy summer vibes, song has this awesome bounce to it. The bars are decent, the flows were great over this production, and the whole thing just had this amazing laid back summer vibe to it. The singing sounds great too, but drags on a bit too long, drains the song of its momentum. Luckily more raps follow, and bring back that vibe. Another interesting yet fantastic track

11. Bebey (SN1 Road Mix) (ft. Giggs) – Giggs sounds funny on this, but good? His deep voice works surprisingly well on this production, and he flows great and even changes up his delivery and flows a bit. Other than that the same as ‘Bebey’ I think

12. Seals (solo) – Really enjoy the stripped back production on this version, has this real raw feel. Theophilus does the auto tuned Kanye-Esque like Part just as well as Yachty, real different vibe though for sure

13. Revenge (ft. Ariel Pink) – Real 80s synth pop feel on this one, is well executed but not too exciting at all, doesn’t sound fresh or unique. Both the production and singing is guilty for this mediocrity. Below average song

Album Review

All in all Bebey was a very enjoyable listen, with Theophilus mixing elements of Hip Hop, r&b, synth-pop, surf rock and reggae to give us this beautiful blend on genres that has something for everyone. The album certainly had highs and lows, and I think one thing that works against this album is that it has so many different sounds that it’d be rare for someone to enjoy every song.

Going into this album I wasn’t expecting too much, having heard only one Theophilus project previously (5 years ago), and having not really enjoyed that too much. But as a progressed through the album I came to enjoy Theophilus’ contributions more and more. The album also was a great showing of his versatility, with Theo providing beautiful melodies on songs such as ‘Pretty’ and ‘Seals (solo)’, and spitting some impressive flows and bars on tracks such as ‘Bebey’ & ‘Cuba’. The only times I wasn’t a big fan of Theophilus was when he was overly repetitive on songs such as the Tame Impala collaborations and the reggae influenced song ‘Marchin’, but as mentioned earlier these just weren’t really my kind of songs anyway, and although I wasn’t a big fan I think he executed those sounds well.

The production was one of the best parts of the album, with the instrumentals often setting the vibe for the entire track, allowing Theophilus to shift his style accordingly to ride the wave. I think every song on the album was well produced, but there were some I found a bit boring as the song went on. Overall though there were many more high points than low points; Loved the overall reggae vibes on ‘Marchin’ despite not liking the song, enjoyed the hard hitting bass and jungle feel on ‘Give You’, the grandiose production on ‘Seals’ gave it this thoroughly enjoyable Kanye-like feel which is rare to find, and the way the beat changes up and progresses in ‘Cuba’ is fantastic. In terms of the production it’s just a really fun and well produced mix of a wide range of sounds.

So in summary this is an above average album, with a mix of great and average tracks, and I’m sure everyone would find at least a couple of tracks they enjoy on here, most likely different for each person. I was expecting a couple of good songs with a bunch of filler, but ended up throughly enjoying 5 tracks and being on the fence about another 3 or 4, so personally I’m impressed and this album has put Theophilus on my radar more than he has been these last few years

Final Notes

You can stream Bebey in full on Spotify here, or on Apple Music here!

Alternatively listen to it for free on YouTube here!

‘Only You (ft. Tame Impala)’ Music Video

‘Cuba’ Official Lyric Video

‘Bebey SN1 Road Mix (ft. Giggs)’ Music Video

‘Pretty (ft. Ian Isiah)’ Music Video

My favourite songs were ‘Bebey’, ‘Cuba’, ‘Give You’, ‘Pretty’, & ‘Bebey (SN1 Road Mix)’

What did you think of the album?

What songs do you think were the best?

Thanks For Reading!

– Shan –

One thought on “First Impressions: Theophilus London – Bebey

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