It would be easy to dismiss twenty-eight year old Claudia Alexandra Feliciano as having an overall style and sound too heavily reminiscent of Nicki Minaj, and an energy and flow that is also staggeringly comparable, but the overall effect of her latest mixtape, The Rest Comes Later (released on June 30th of 2015), is far less grating and gives off a slightly less commercial impression than the aforementioned Singer/ Rapper’s overall body of work. The production over the course of the fifteen track opus, primarily from DJ Pumba and Luke White, is essentially a collection of stripped down and simple beats that don’t distract from Snow tha Product’s cheery sounding, but vehement in content, flow but rarely go any further than elemental. The same can be said for the majority of the mixtape, with the Latin flavored sound and Spanish language rhyming of “Suavemente” (sporting the most vibrant song construction in all of the entire project from Jomeezius the Genius) and the Ty Dolla Sign featured unique take on relationships “1 Time” being both highlights and the scant exceptions to this statement, where most songs are more than comfortable to replicate Snow tha Product’s rapid-fire delivery over pop-influenced beats. It’s a formula that makes for a fairly consistent endeavor which feels as if it would be best suited for someone casually listening more to the tune than being gripped by the female emcee’s wordplay.
Such is not to say that Snow tha Product doesn’t exhibit force as a lyricist. She has the necessary aggression and attitude on songs like the enjoyable but ineffectual and ultimately forgettable opener, “Ay Ay Ay” (produced by Blue the Misfit”) and also on the equally tolerable but ultimately serviceable later entries: “Yeah, I Said It”, “Hold me Back” and “Bad ….” (offering the only production turn on the mixtape from AK and it elucidates precisely the exact sensations as most others herein) but none of the emotional or vehement pull to anything she says to make listeners sit upright and be fully gripped by what she has to say. Mid-album efforts like “Bet that I Will”, “Same Ones” and earlier in the placement of the mixtape tunes like “Got me This Far”, “Feeling Back” and “No Going Back” showcase her clinging onto the formula of an uncomplicated, but pleasurable for what it is, melody giving Feliciano a chance to tear into the track, these ingredients have proven perfect for real lyricists such as Nas and Eminem to turn this bit of background din into something genuinely mesmerizing, but Snow tha Product gives us a likable, forceful inflection (which is always appreciated and necessary to make powerful music) but her lines, instead, create a polar opposite effect as they seem to communicate enough ideas but lack the equally pivotal conviction to make her music as explosive as it could be.
The only time she attempts to put her soul into the entirety of a whole song is on the tolerable finale, “I’m Sayin’ “ (with listenable, but never engaging, sound construction from Blais that continues on the par set by the rest of the album in terms of beats and words). Even on this track, Snow tha Product refuses to go out of the comfort zone set forth by topics seemingly pre-approved by far too many mainstream rappers before her as the song is about getting intoxicated when she is feeling depressed intermingled with various comments about ‘the haters’ and ‘having no time for them’ that could be transposed from any other garden variety Hip Hop track.
This seems like a cop-out since there are brief bits of seemingly genuine introspection tossed in throughout. For example: she talks about the problems with her mother in both verses of “Ay Ay Ay”. In verse one she sarcastically goes into her conflicting feelings about the turbulent relationship with her maternal half and trying not to upset her. On verse two she mentions being “kicked out” of her mother’s house but this is quickly cut off by getting into the clichéd territory of saying it is because she partied too much.
It is almost as if there is a force guiding her lyrically that wants to dig deep into her experience, her perspective and her life, which would lift her punning into a more infinitely amusing department and give it the interest that it generally lacks, but once she starts treading down this road another energy takes off and pulls her back into what is comfortable, conventional and anything but heady.
Of all the tracks found within The Rest Comes Later this is most noticeable on the far too average, in all conceivable departments, “No …” (produced by DJA). Snow tha Product gives us a hook that stings of the mundane as she brags, “Boys be trying to holler/ Girls be trying to get it/ Both they floppin’ dollars/ Both of them wishin’/ Everybody loves me.” This, in itself, should give you all the information you need to know how egotistic and ordinary this song, and this is carried into the similarly routine second to the last song, “Whose it Is” (featuring more by the numbers work from DJ Pumba). On this song, Snow tha Product finds herself content to spin the so often used one can create a track about in their sleep subjects of dancing, money and further self-centeredness. It isn’t to say that one can’t look beyond the contrivances seeping out of the pores of these obvious attempts at evoking something radio friendly and stamp a trace of guilty pleasure to hearing these tunes, but one can’t help but wonder how hard it is to break away from the acquainted and take chances and break ground.
The Rest Comes Later makes this previous question linger in the listener’s mind long after it is over. Yes, there are songs and subjects (such as love, sex, partying) that will be relatable and cast a wide to net to people of all ages, creeds and races and often they are utilized to create an album that sells but, when you put this to the forefront through nearly the entirety of your project one can’t help but wonder if you are in music to push the boundaries of the art form and create something new, tackle subjects that most would recoil from, like such immortal emcee greats as Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. did unflinchingly and helped cement their legendary status, or if one is simply trying to sell a song as if it is no more than a piece of disposal merchandise. Such is an inquiry I’ve asked myself a lot lately and the only answer I can cling to is that the vaguely ominous promise peeking through the moniker The Rest Comes Later is that the potentially promising talent hidden inside Snow tha Product will shed these inhibitions to follow the pack and go deeper into the introspective personality which is only glimpsed, like a bit of light from an incandescent moon amid an all too unremarkable night, in passing here.