By Milend Kolbet
When it comes to Brooklyn Drill music there are few artists as synonymous with the genre as the massively popular Sheff G. In 2017 he broke onto the scene with his diss track No Suburban, a response to 22Gz’s then recently released track Suburban. Following this initial popularity the hype died down when Sheff G spent some time in jail and other rappers on the scene began to steal the spotlight. However with the release of his debut album The Unluccy Luccy Kid in 2019, followed by One and Only the next year, Sheff G solidified his position as one of the most prominent figures in Brooklyn Drill.
What his December 2020 release Proud of Me Now represents is a triumph over his obstacles. It is the first album that Sheff G has released via his own label, Winner’s Circle. During an interview with Genius, he described the first track as his “introduction to the world,” — he had finally made it to the biggest stage and it was time to “tell them to turn the lights on.” “Lights On” is letting us know the changes he feels on this new stage, reflecting on how “they never loved me, then I got rich and they love me now.” By opening the album with “Lights On,” Sheff G is not only saying that he is here, but he is here to stay.
For the remainder of the album the songs feel as if they are torn from two separate worlds. Some, such as “I’ll Be There,” “Mistakes,” and “Shooting Star” continue the theme of deep introspection. They look at a life that feels buried in Sheff’s past, remembering days when he was “wishing like a shooting star,” and reminding himself not to dwell on mistakes.
These songs are sharply contrasted by “Eeny Meany Miny Moe,” “Proud of Me Now,” and “No Negotiations,” in which Sheff G is back to “drilling,” with fast beats and lyrics that are more aggressive than emotional. Sheff G further explores contrasting moods as he both celebrates and challenges his new life of fame. In “Anyone,” he reflects on the feeling that he can no longer trust anyone, despite celebrating the new lavish surroundings he has gained with fame on “No Negotiations.”
While this album does a good job of trying different themes and experimenting with new types of beats, Sheff G also stays true to his roots. He is known for his creative wordplay, and this album does not fall short, (my personal favorite line from “Tip Toe” is I’m too hot, dawg, better catch up (huh)).
Although “Proud of Me Now” is a reflection on his growing fame, Sheff G still uses terms that are seldom used outside of his native New York City. “Breesh” could easily be changed to “money” in a few songs in order to cater to a larger stage, yet he chooses to continue using local slang. This lets us know that not only are the lights on for this artist, but that he’s going to let the world see exactly what Sheff G wants.