Review: MoStack, ‘Stacko’

MoStack’s debut album misses the magic of his earlier hits.

It took only a year for MoStack to establish himself as the anthem man of the UK. Singles such as “Let It Ring”, “Liar Liar” and “I Do” fed a necessary, comedic edge to the belly of the UK rap scene without becoming short-lived memes. His debut mixtape, High Street Kid, gave a glimpse of the rapper’s potential but left more to be desired. It also posed a question towards MoStack’s selection habits; the best MoStack songs never make it onto a project. Two years on since the mixtape and plenty of time to create, MoStack must select the right material if he is to escape the label of being a ‘singles’ artist.

MoStack’s formula relies on catchy hooks and humour. Stacko seeks but doesn’t secure, presenting pleasant songs that lack the smash hit spirit of his singles.

Stacko intends to be the bubbly collection it’s supposed to be. The production on the likes of “Respect & Love” and “Shannon” stay true to the summer soundtrack MoStack had been promising, carefree and quotable (“Gangstas with style, they do the bootings in Louboutins”). That’s in addition to the final track “What I Wanna”, which is still the strongest song of the album despite being released a year ago.

A MoStack track must have a power chorus to drive the replay value. Unfortunately a handful of weak hooks and beats result in songs that should have been left on the cutting room floor. Tracks like “Rock With You”, “Take Em Down” and “Girl Diary” lack the melodies and entertaining concepts MoStack typically brings, far removed from fulfilling criteria of a MoStack banger. The sweet and tender “Shine Girl” with Stormzy is a slice of cringe, relying on a weak lyrical angle that could have been successful if it was a bit more inventive.

Collaborations that were promising on paper end up leaving more to be desired. “I’m the One” with Fredo doesn’t steer in any direction, not helped by its messy production. However the most disappointing collaboration is “Stinking Rich” with Dave and J Hus. The average hook could have done the trick if not for the pause between the mention of the song title, but would merely be excused as passable rather than a memorable hook of the summer. The piano keys have been exhausted by MoStack beats at this point, nor is there any chemistry between the trio, despite respectable verses by Dave and J Hus. For a song promoted as song of the summer, it fails to live up to expectations.

When MoStack decides to experiment, it results in “I Want You”, a drum-and-bass dinosaur straight out of chart trends dating back to 2010. To MoStack’s credit, it does provide a breather from the tedious production, but distinction doesn’t necessarily equal creativity.

After similar issues plaguing the High Street Kid mixtape, MoStack’s debut may as well confirm the rapper isn’t an albums artist. Stacko attempts to stick to the formula but results in a mixed batch. Perhaps EPs would be better suited for MoStack going forward, as his knack for hitmaking is gratifying in small doses.

Rating: 6 / 10

Best tracks: “What I Wanna”, “Respect & Love”, “Shannon”, “Yes Yes”