Review: ‘Third Avenue’

On his debut album, Fredo applies an exhausted formula that treads tedious territory.

For the past two years, Fredo has been the embodiment of UK trap, detailing life of the roads in signature fashion. Breaking out with the iconic “They Ain’t 100”, Fredo has gone on to secure a top 5 mixtape and a number 1 single with fellow British artist Dave, all before the arrival of his commercial debut. Fredo’s popularity derives from his simplicity, possessing a knack for getting to the point over beats that sound like they belong at the Ritz. With two mixtapes to his name, Third Avenue may be a fitting ending to the trap trilogy.

Without context, Third Avenue is a painless exhibition of sufficient British trap. However, the continued familiarity from Fredo’s past releases result in a tedious 40 minutes that paints the rapper as a one-trick pony.

All across the album, there is an immediate sense of ‘been there, done that’, whether that is Fredo’s antiquated flow, familiar instrumentals or basic hooks. Up until the closing track, Third Avenue treads habitual territory to produce songs that have been done bigger and better on mixtapes Get Rich or Get Recalled and Tables Turn. The catch with this dynamic is that the songs are not unlistenable but inherently familiar. Opening track “Survival of the Fittest” follows the exact template of the opener to Fredo’s Tables Turn (“Rappin’ & Trappin'”) to the degree where the song is a carbon copy. However, this familiarity is welcoming, capturing the same grit of its twin for a brief 2 minutes.

Other songs are not as fortunate in execution. “Money Maker” and “Mmhm” provide no selling points, whether that be an engaging hook or memorable lines. The album’s recycled production does no favours for songs like “Pray for You”, “Property Picking” and “They Don’t”, serving as lifeless placeholders to pad out the tracklist. Such tracks are not worth replay value when superior versions exist on Fredo’s mixtapes, a fact that defines the pitfalls of Third Avenue.

The plural for ‘performance’ can’t be used for Fredo, as the one cadence and flow hauls him from verse to verse. His habit for double rhymes and stressing his B’s is an exhausted routine Thankfully the two guest appearances allow a crucial breather from Fredo’s lifeless vocals. Dave’s verse is the saviour of the average “All I Ever Wanted”, while Lil Dotz’s laidback flow on “Doing the Most” effortlessly blends with the booming production.

From the 13 tracks, “BMT” is the most complete song. The single brings a memorable concept, vibrant production featuring a prominent sitar sample and a structured hook (“Yo BMT, I’m on a big man ting / I ain’t going into clubs without my big hand ting”). “BMT” stays true to the Fredo formula but possesses one distinct detail to its production to make the track stand out from the surrounding faces. If there were more tracks that carried such additions, Third Avenue may have been more than a mere collection of average Fredo songs.

Without introducing a new element to the formula, Fredo performs the same tricks to generate lacklustre results. For an album expected to be a promising debut, Third Avenue feels like Groundhog Day.

Rating: 6 / 10

Favourite tracks: “BMT”, “Survival of the Fittest”, “Doing the Most”

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