Compared to other Brooklyn drill artists, like 22GZ and the late Pop Smoke, Sheff G is harder to place a finger on. He traffics in tropes like letting bullets fly and hating snitches, but he’s developed more of a melancholy vibe, whether in his flow, lyrics, or beat selection. His latest mixtape, One and Only shows flashes of excellence when he focuses on the struggle of maintaining a lifestyle where the consequences are so apparent.
Multiple tracks on One and Only have reserved beats and flows, but there’s hardly anything relaxing about them. From the beginning with “2nd Intro,” Sheff G has a lot on his mind. He reflects about losing friends and moving on from violence. (“We used to fill up them clips. Now, we tryin’ to fill up our checking”) The keyword there is “tryin’.”
Resigned mostly to himself, Sheff G sounds like he’s having a one-sided therapy session, monologuing about regrets and anger towards those who’ve wronged him. On “Moody,” he props himself up as inspiring copycats against a guitar-laced beat. “Fear Over Love” finds him expressing sorrow to his mother about continuing a violent lifestyle, but there’s no indication he’s out for good.
Though it doesn’t reach the depths of his aforementioned Brooklyn drill artists, Sheff’s voice is pretty deep. He’s also got a good amount of range, like on “Note to Self,” when his flow warps from melodic to gruff without sounding forced. These smoothly carry over to his lyrics as well. On “Once I’m Gone,” he seamlessly goes from talking about how demons are “waitin’ on [him]” to how he can “knock your head off.”
Quite a few tracks on One and Only go hard with absolute force. He sounds the most like Pop Smoke on “No Suburban, Pt. 2,” the sequel to his breakout single, where he all but confirms his beef with 22GZ (“This is a diss track. This is not a song.”) against a wild accordion-driven beat from Great John.
“Lil Big Bro Shit” aims for stank face reactions and delivers, with Sheff’s words hitting as hard as the kick drums as he says things like “If I die before I wake, I pray that heaven let the ruthless in” before closing things out with a sinister whisper flow.
What keeps One and Only from greatness are a couple of undercooked tracks, such as “The Left,” which has a tepid feature from Young AP, and “Tonight 2.” His frequent collaborator Sleepy Hallow makes a couple of strong appearances, but Sheff is truly at his best when he has full room to express himself.
If and when Sheff G delivers something phenomenal, One and Only may be looked back upon as a prelude to his true legacy.