Zach Farlow has been around for a few years, but outside a devoted core fan group, he has not amassed a large following. This might seem surprising, looking at the producers he’s affiliated with: Lex Luger, Sonny Digital, Metro Boomin, TM88, and Southside have all made beats for him, the latter two pairing up for Farlow’s late 2013 track “Black Diamonds.” He starts that song by rapping about something painfully obvious: he’s white.
Yes, one could easily point the finger at hip-hop industry racism as a deterrent to Farlow’s career success. Making it as a white rapper often requires selling oneself entirely to a record label and its marketing department; I think of Yelawolf, Macklemore, Riff Raff, Mac Miller. Otherwise, a cosign from an established (black) rapper can also be helpful. Where would Eminem be without Dr. Dre?
Resiliently, Zach Farlow refuses to sell out or give in. He belts out ballads with a voice that takes cues from rap/R&B crossover, and he’s been compared to Fetty Wap in the past (though Farlow has been in that vein longer). Don’t think that this is lighthearted pop; his songs often have a dark tone, playing up the emotional toll of street life, underscoring the psychological consequences of engaging in infamous behavior. Over Til It’s Over, Farlow’s latest mixtape, does an excellent job showcasing these very same qualities.
Roughly half the songs on this tape are produced by Ricky Racks, with the gaps filled in by 808 Mafia’s finest. There’s no question that these beats are top-notch; Farlow’s career-long association with 808 Mafia is a huge deal. These producers represent the gold standard for Southern hip-hop (read: trap). As such, they demand a lot from the lyricist, and Farlow manages to stay on top and in control on each track.
Continuing the sound of The Great Escape and The Great Escape 2, Over Til It’s Over still stands on its own ground. “Champagne” is a smooth tune about celebrating when you’re still alive at the end of the day; it also plays on common themes of hip-hop celebrity, such as cars, drugs, and women. Farlow shows off his vulnerable side on “Sometimes,” getting in touch with his feelings over a fierce Southside beat. “Round Here,” “iDo iDo” and “Back To The Money” help round out the mixtape’s impressive second half. It’s hard to find a bad song here; Farlow always sounds natural and at home, which gives his music an effortless air. He could do this in his sleep.
After another satisfying project like this one, I’m left hoping that big things happen quickly for Zach. His raw talent, well-rounded persona and endless energy are sorely needed in today’s rap scene. Over Til It’s Over is a captivating listen. Download it here.