Music Reviews

Reckoning With The Disappointment of Guapdad 4000’s 1176

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Genre: Bay Area Rap

Favorite Tracks: “Uncle Ricky,” “Muhammad,” “Catching Bodies”

As a mixed-race Asian-American rap fan (yes, that’s probably redundant), and one in a long-term relationship with a woman whose familial background is eerily similar to Guapdad 4000’s, I had high hopes for the Oakland scammer’s new project 1176. Too high unfortunately, as 1176 fails to live up to the perspective it purported to offer, and fails to surpass the wild, slept-on album which preceded it, DIOR DEPOSITS. Perhaps it was misguided to expect much depth from a rapper whose name lies somewhere between a bill-throwing strip club robot and a product of a Wu-Tang style name generator updated for 2021 tastes. But I’m reluctant to take the blame for my disappointment, as the artist is the one responsible for setting expectations. Put another way, if you invite me to family dinner, or out to Popeye’s, I’m happy either way. But if you promise me auntie’s homemade lumpia and adobo, then give me fast food, it’s not my fault I’m coming away unsatisfied and wondering what could’ve been.

Recently, I praised the reliable, no-frills appeal of Young Dolph and Key Glock’s slick Memphis trap; I knew exactly what the artists were delivering and concluded they successfully met those expectations. In contrast, Guapdad kicked off the release cycle for 1176 touting the album as a return to his roots, a window into his unique perspective as a Black and Filipino American, and as a rapper with feet squarely in both the fiercely regional Bay Area scene and the internet-born scam rap wave. A longform interview with The Ringer, an album title and cover depicting his childhood home, a partnership with Asian rap label 88rising’s Filipino-focused spinoff Paradise Rising, and production by Filipino producer !llmind all point to something deeper than corny sex raps and scam talk, practically daring me to go into this album expecting seriousness and reflection. While 1176 occasionally hints at what an album truly formed around this wonderful, uniquely American identity could be, it is instead mostly derivative and uninteresting.

For all the effort Guapdad put into selling the family connections and what the project means to him, opening with back-to-back duds like “How Many” and “She Wanna (featuring P-Lo)” is downright baffling. The former is built around a wistful, groovy beat and bouncy chorus, which is completely marred by a couplet which refers to himself and his girl as slaves to material goods. To build up your Filipino and Black heritage, both with long, traumatic histories with colonization and slavery, then open with such crass, insensitive lyrics is immediately off-putting. “She Wanna” is arguably worse, a weak pastiche of the simple snap-and-clap beats Bay Area legends like Too Short and E-40 made careers on, dripping misogyny and explicit sex bars that are neither creative nor smooth enough to save the track from being an instant skip.

Things do improve, though never to a level that I would call satisfactory. “Catching Bodies” and “Touch Dough” lean on strong Bay Area-style production and allow Guapdad to flex his strengths, namely quotable scamming tales and his smooth, fun delivery. “Uncle Ricky” is one of the few truly revealing tracks, a walk through Guapdad’s memories framed through the lens of a wildcard uncle dragging the young rapper from one caper to another, like a sun-drenched version of A$AP Ferg’s “Uncle Psycho”. The memories are fragments, a whiff of hot alcohol breath, a pang of nervousness when Ricky bangs on the door, but they paint a visceral picture of a boy torn between familial love and uneasiness with actions he knows are probably bad news. “Chicken Adobo” and “Stoop Kid” also draw closer to the ideal version of 1176, but each is flawed. The former fails to dig any deeper than, “How I fell in love with you, it was beautiful / Like chicken adobo how you fill me up.” The track is heartfelt and sounds nice, but uses the ubiquitous Filipino dish as a cheap stand-in rather than an integral part of the love story. Finally, “Stoop Kid” is the big, serious closer, going into real detail about Guapdad’s upbringing. Unfortunately, he saves a lot of that detail not for his rapping and singing, but for a minutes-long exposition dump. It reveals some truly interesting history that I can’t help but wish had been woven into the album’s narrative instead of being tacked on to the end of the runtime.

1176 is ultimately a stumble that promises much more than it is able to deliver. The production can’t reach the madcap heights that DIOR DEPOSITS managed before it, and the narrative threads that Guapdad dropped in interviews generally aren’t picked up in fulfilling ways. Guapdad has enormous potential, sporting a contact list most rappers with his experience would kill for and a background that affords him a perspective on rap music and America at large I want to hear from. I hope to witness that growth continue on future projects, because 1176 is a lateral move at best. 

Corey Guen
Corey is an East Coast lifer, Nintendo fanboy and proud beard-haver in spite of his Chinese heritage. He writes about music for Merry-Go-Round because listening to it and arguing about the Celtics are the only things he's managed to stick with for more than a few years.

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