OJ Da Juiceman never came up. His 2009 debut album, The Otha Side of the Trap, contained songs culled from his early mixtapes, neither fresh nor exciting but featuring the only proper hit he’s ever had, “Make the Trap Say Aye.” “Aye” has since become OJ’s trademark adlib/sound effect, just as annoying (and distinct) as French Montana’s “Haaaaaa” or Desiigner’s machine gun imitations. In 2014, OJ dropped his sophomore album The Otis Williams Jr. Story on his own 32 Entertainment, but limited promotion and a dearth of worthwhile songs kept the release from charting. Even the non-album single “Move Something,” featuring Gucci Mane and Bankroll Fresh, was a flop.
Despite his seeming inability to break through into the limelight, OJ Da Juiceman is relentless, releasing mixtapes at a steady clip in the hopes that something will stick. It’s not as though he’s incapable of making good music: 2008’s Culinary Art School mixtape is an underrated exercise in proto-trap, and on the 2012 song “Narley” OJ sounds great atop Metro Boomin’s Van Halen sampling beat. And yet, his whiny voice, limited range of content and abuse of autotune makes it hard to listen to any Juiceman project all the way through.
Math Class is OJ’s third mixtape of the year after Texaco Muzik Vol. 1 and the Chicago Santana collaborative tape Bricks & Bales. I last tuned in to 2014’s Alaska In Atlanta 2, a mixtape which saw OJ Da Juiceman working with a talented stable of producers. I kinda liked it, and the Gucci Mane feature certainly tops the only guest spot on Math Class, furnished by Lord of the Rings-sounding R&B singer Tarvornia. Left to his own devices, OJ fails to carry this mixtape, putting many hot beats to waste.
The subject matter of songs like “Stove” and “Whip” is predictable and generic. For most of the mixtape, OJ simply spouts trap tropes and sports references, falling into the same bad habits that Young Dolph has only recently been able to break free from. The hook on “SameThang” is so close to being a “Plain Jane” ripoff that even the titles sound alike. Songs like “All I Do” and “Clockwork” emphasize that all OJ knows is cooking crack and selling dope; if his range of life experiences is really that restrained, then it’s no wonder he is unable to break free from rapping about so small a handful of concepts. There are no stories told on Math Class, but the same two-line notions are repeated until they lose any meaning or realism.
This music is expendable, vanishing into the ether as soon as each song ends. Like some Rich The Kid and Chief Keef mixtapes, it feels like this entire project was recorded in a single day. There’s nothing to come back for, and no signs that better things are to come. For a rapper whose first mixtape proclaimed him to be On Da Come Up, those words have never been further from the truth.
Download Math Class here.