Activated is classic Tee Grizzley: relentlessly intense rapping that makes an intense impression over uninventive beats that leave no impression at all.
You can say the latter’s simplicity provides the blankest of canvasses for Tee to go wild with the former, thereby drawing focus to his lyrics…but prime producing elevates pro rapping; merely accompanying the words and getting out of their way ultimately lets them down. Plus, the monotonous pace of the beats fail to allow Tee to showcase any range in his flow. The likes of “Bag” slow down the proceedings…into traditional and tired trap (albeit with a bit more singing than the norm), a far-cry from the sort of creative diversity I’m looking for.
That’s why the most memorable songs on the album shake up this formula, courtesy of —*gulp* — Chris Brown. I know it’s uncouth to shower praise upon him given his indefensible personal life, but goddamn if he doesn’t bring me back to my high school days, and who doesn’t love the smell of nostalgia in the morning/afternoon/evening?! His rap-crooning at least moderately differentiates Tee’s soundscape, which can best be described as pump-up tunes that could serve as the perfect soundtrack for the nights when you just wanna punch a fist through some walls.
In short, Tee’s a talented producer away from being one of the best in the game today.