'The Voice of the Heroes', a collaborative album between Atlanta artist, Lil Baby, and Chicago artist, Lil Durk, is a crisp, cool trap project that gives you a good idea of the trap genre currently, being one of my favorite trap collaborative albums that I've heard. The album explored every single corner of the trap genre, not missing out on any mood, containing the aggressive bangers, emotional, pain-filled songs, anti-snitching anthems, and even some excellent songs that slightly touch the topic of sex. Before this album, Lil Baby and Lil Durk have collaborated on quite a few songs, with almost all of them being fantastic, such as the viral song from Just Cause Y'all Waited 3,'3 Headed Goat', where the trio of Lil Baby, Lil Durk, and Polo G all provided perfect performances, 'Finesse Out the Gang Way' which appeared on the deluxe of Lil Durk's last album, being a good song, and most recently on 'Every Change I Get', on DJ Khaled's most recent album, which is a song that'll get you immediately hyped and contains one of Durk's best verses. Lil Baby and Lil Durk may seem like a slightly odd pair at first, but it all makes sense when you compare their charting stats as they both are clearly at the top of the trap genre at the moment, with Lil Baby just having dropped a masterpiece in my opinion over a year ago with My Turn, and Lil Durk making a huge comeback in his long career with The Voice. I actually thought that I'd be disappointed but I was wrong as this was at the same quality as their solo music, being slightly better in fact and I know that people will be playing this album all year.
The vocals from Lil Baby were better than I thought, not sounding stale like they have gotten on his features this year, having so much more variety than I expected while still sounding excellent. Lil Baby has had a huge problem with focusing his verses on only speed so far in 2021, but that all changed with the release of this album as he really tried stuff you wouldn't expect such as taking on a more melodic approach to his verses on about three songs and even some scarce singing being present from Lil Baby. Lil Baby sounds really good like usual when he regularly raps, only occasionally sounding awkward like when he says 'okay' on the chorus of 'Okay' and on 'That's Facts' where he sounds frustratingly awful on the chorus. Lil Baby's vocals adjust in amazing ways to his switch of flows, being the main reason for why he almost always sounds fantastic, no matter how many times he switches his flows, sounding so smooth. Even though, Lil Baby's vocals have been an improvement compared to his vocals on his features in 2021, they're still way worse compared to the vocals on his previous projects, including My Turn, having lost the magical touch to them which can be seen on songs such as 'Drip Too Hard' and 'Chanel (Go Get It)' where he glides gorgeously, just gliding these days, although there are glimpses of his old self on a few tracks. Something that 4PF members have in common is managing to not use almost any autotune and still sound amazing, which is what Lil Baby does too as he remains raw for basically the whole album as I don't remember hearing any sign of autotune from Lil Baby, which helps let the emotions shine. Lil Baby struggles to sound good on the hard (aggressive) songs such as 'Lying', sounding so much better on the soft songs such as 'Okay', with his magnificent smooth vocals letting the pain in his voice out as he spreads some outstanding messages. 'Please' is the song where Lil Baby spends a few seconds singing, singing on the last line of the chorus and it actually sounded kinda good. Overall, Lil Baby's vocals were beautiful on the more melodic side of the album while they could've been better on the aggressive bangers as he sounds too dry on these songs.
The vocals from Lil Durk were decent, not being as good as Lil Baby vocally, especially being disappointing because I was expecting Lil Durk to be providing most of the variety which was what Lil Baby ended up doing instead surprisingly. Lil Durk has been killing his features vocally unlike Lil Baby in 2021 (even though Lil Baby has had fantastic features in 2021, I just haven't been a huge fan of his vocals in any of them) on songs such as 'Back in Blood' and 'No Statements' where his aggressive attitude is a billion times better than anyone else's aggressive style currently as you can really feel the anger and rage bursting out of Lil Durk, while not missing vocally with his features on the melodic side of trap, on songs such as '24 Hours' where he creates a beautiful bubble filled with intimacy, comfort, and care. On this album, he chooses to not stick to either style, sticking in the middle which ends up extremely underwhelming as it's makes Lil Durk sound so boring, having no sign of passion in his voice which messes up the mood of many songs. There's only one song where he chooses to embrace his aggressive attitude on the album, being 'Lying', which was a really good song as only Lil Baby lacked a little on the song as he struggled to adjust. Meanwhile, the melodic side of Lil Durk seemed to never come, only half-appearing on the second-half of the album which was okay at best as his potential just wasn't reached which lowered the quality of the album too. We all know that Lil Baby's vocals are very dry, which is why I thought that Lil Durk would take the responsibility to add some kind of wetness to the tracks, something that Gunna does often, at least on the tracks where there's no wetness present on the beats, but Lil Durk didn't seem bothered to do that, only providing some slight wetness on two to three songs. Lil Durk's use of autotune was amazing, never getting to the clearly audible stage, but always having an effect on his vocals as you can hear the enhancement, not being something he needs but just something that helps. I mean I doubt Lil Durk can sound bad, as I honestly haven't heard a song where he's sounded even below average, always bringing something to the table with his unique vocals, which is why I wish that he had experimented at least a little with his vocals and tried something new instead of playing it completely safe on such a big moment in his career. Overall, Lil Durk's vocals on the album were extremely disappointing, although they were still decent as he remained consistent, not ruining any of the songs while sounding kinda cool throughout the album.
The production on the album was actually wonderful, being way better than I thought they'd be as all types of beats were used, with the beats still being perfect for both rappers to rap on as there isn't a single beat that sounded awkward along with both of them or a song where both rappers sounded uncomfortable (excluding one song). Almost all the biggest trap producers made an appearance on the album, such as Wheezy, London on da Track, ATL Jacob, Turbo, and Murda Beatz, which I thought was amazing to see as only the biggest of the biggest (Metro Boomin, Pierre Bourne) seemed to not make an appearance. Along with the big producers, Lil Baby's common producers Section 8 and Chi Chi made an appearance while Lil Durk's main producer, TurnMeUpJosh, didn't produce any of the songs (probably due to his passing, RIP TurnMeUpJosh) and Lil Baby's past main producer, Quay Global, seems to still have not made an appearance on any of Lil Baby's songs since My Turn. With the wide range of producers being present on the album, it's not a huge surprise that they were able to produce a huge variety of sounds and not just a piano instrumental on every song which was what I worried about and expecting. Chi Chi perfectly crafted a Travis Scott beat that had the trap elements for Lil Baby and Lil Durk to be able to rap on, with the pad and trap drums being the layers that connect all their three styles. Wheezy didn't disappoint with his first appearance on the album, 'Who I Want', with a wild above average instrumental being supported by wonderful counter melodies and decent drums. I was actually surprised by London on da Track's frequent appearances on the album, but his beats were absolutely fantastic with 'Still Hood using a really nice instrumental supported by stunning counter melodies that sounded slightly nostalgic along with messy but magnificent drums and a pretty good Polo G type beat on 'Medical' that has drums with a strong punch and counter melodies similar to 'Still Hood'. ATL Jacob's production has gotten close to garbage in the last few months, no offense to him as I actually love a lot of his beats from last year such as the one on 'Spaceship', but I just ain't a fan of his new beats at all, with them having some of the cheapest instrumentals I've heard in the trap genre and use disgusting drums that ruin the entire song. 'Please' is a perfectly produced song, being the only producer credit for Turbo on the album, using a beautiful, dreamy instrumental and matching it with unique, outstanding drums, kinda carrying Lil Baby and Lil Durk. 'Rich Off Pain' uses a classic Rod Wave beat, being produced by TnTXD, having a huge 2010-2015 influence with the instrumental and supported by tremendous trap drums. The only song where Lil Baby and Lil Durk didn't sound comfortable on was 'If You Want To', with the beat ruining the performances from both of the rappers. The production played a pretty big role for why I enjoyed the album as much as I did, kinda being the make or break factor of the album as I could clearly see them stuffing the album with soggy piano beats, which would've made things so boring, making me glad that they didn't as they instead used a variety of instrumental, drums, and beat styles. Overall, the production on the album was filled with a lot of variety, using plenty of different instrumentals and using interesting trap drums to create a platform perfect for both of them to create some wonderful tracks.
The lyrics from Lil Baby were brilliant, clearly having grown a great amount since My Turn, dropping plenty of bars as there's just an abundance of lines that are fresh and quotable on each verse from him. Lil Baby's top two topics on the album included his past street life and sex surprisingly, both being topics that he had barely talked about on My Turn, so it was refreshing to hear him rap about these two topics. He never chose to include repetition in any of the choruses, being a key factor that separates his writing with writing of other top trap rappers. Lil Baby's flows are fantastic on his verses, being written to bite at the perfect moments as they twist and turn when you're least expecting it. When it comes to sex, trap rappers can get disgusting which is what happens with Lil Baby as he lines such as 'Look her dead in the face when I'm ------, Send a video, and tell me she want it'. Excluding some icky sex lines, he never makes me cringe, with there instead being so many lines that blow my mind such as 'When you sleeping with me, then your dreams come true'. Lil Baby made sure to include some spectacular references such as shouting out Young Thug for giving him a bustdown Patek before he was famous and a really good Julio Jones reference. He's one of the best trap rappers at motivating, something that I saw he had the talent for ever since 'Sum 2 Prove' which was my favorite song of 2021 and never failing to come up with more lovely lines that make you want to keep grinding and get as rich as Lil Baby. Honestly, Lil Baby's improvement in writing from just writing about street violence in every track to lyrics that allow you to feel the pain of the streets is stunning and being perfect for this album as his partner is one of the best at making music filled with pain for the streets as we all know Lil Durk calls himself, 'the voice of the streets'. Overall, the lyrics on the album were beautiful in a way as he captured the struggle of living in the streets in such a spectacular way, similar to how Lil Durk usually does, matching his mind-set to his which was impressive.
The lyrics from Lil Durk were decent, being as good as Lil Baby's but nothing we didn't expect from him as he sticks to talking about the same topics, the street life while surprisingly cutting down on his sex lines and leaving it to Lil Baby instead which wasn't a decision that made me too happy as Lil Durk is actually the best male sex rapper in my opinion so seeing him take a step back on this aspect didn't seem like the best decision. Lil Durk does bring in some super aggressive lines that were amazing while also bringing some bad drug lines that I wish weren't included in the album. Like usual, I love Lil Durk's lines on how he struggled on the streets, allowing me to get a good picture of how hard life was for him. The song that talked about drugs the most was 'Medical' where Durk captures his past problems with addiction to drugs by repeating, 'I need medical', which was weird and unneeded on the album in my opinion, with Lil Baby coming in to save the song by changing the message of the song. Lil Durk denied dissing people on 'Still Runnin' but it looks clear that he was dissing specific people, by even censoring the name of the person which I thought was a weird thing to do if he wasn't dissing that person. Lil Durk touches on a controversy on the track, 'Rich Off Pain' with Rod Wave, talking about how blogs talk about how he 'sacrificed' people to get to where he is today which are allegations that he humbly denies and allegations that I find disgusting. Lil Durk uses a lot more repetition than Lil Baby, but it isn't so bad, being kinda catchy and allowing a few of the songs to grow on me, the longer I listen to them, although the other songs just remain awful. Overall, the lyrics from Lil Durk were fantastic but they made some bad decisions on what topics he should've rapped about as he should've rapped more about sex and less about drugs.
The features on the album were spectacular, although I kinda wish that there were a few more features as it could've made the album more exciting, even though there weren't actually any moments where the album got stale/boring. Travis Scott has been killing his features with songs such as 'Diamonds Dancing' and 'durag activity', with his feature on this song equally matching those two features as he provides an excellent verse on 'Hats Off', taking his use of autotune to the next level on the second half of his verse like he did on the past two features, maybe hinting at something major on 'Utopia', using his autotune to create some ripples that sound really good on a beat that perfectly fits him, with his lyrics being decent. 'Still Runnin' was crafted to be an absolute banger which is exactly what it is as Meek Mill's verse was magnificent, using some really good flows that make my mind spin, using above average lyrics on beat that perfectly fits the him, being the second song in a row to have a feature that perfectly fits the beat. Young Thug's feature was slightly underwhelming as his verse was extremely disappointing with his vocals sounding so awkward while he changes things up a little on the chorus and sounds lovely, a little heavenly, while using really good lyrics on the song. Rod Wave's vocals were on point, sounding outstanding, and with his lyrics being equally spectacular as he understands the pain in the streets similar to Lil Durk and Lil Baby, while additionally perfectly fitting the beat like the first two features. I thought that a Pooh Shiesty feature would've been nice on 'Lying', a Gunna feature would've been great on 'Please', and a female feature would've been fantastic on 'Who I Want'. Overall, the features on the album were all amazing, with the choices being creative and unlike the usual rappers who are chosen for features.
Lil Baby and Lil Durk end up creating a beautiful, decent collaborative project for the streets, acting as the heroes of the streets and using their voices to help the people who struggle with pain on the streets. The concept is clear and executed in an excellent way, beating my expectations by a good amount as I never thought that they would manage to sound so good consistently for an hour as collaboration albums almost never ends up working but with the help of Lil Baby's ability to adjust on almost anything, Lil Durk's ability to automatically connect with the streets, the producers' ability to stick to the trap genre but explore in the process, and the four features' ability to add so much variety in their tiny performances helped it all happen.
Overall, 'The Voice of the Heroes' is a tremendous trap collaborative album, with the powers of Lil Baby and Lil Durk being at their peak as they team up to provide a perspective for the pain faced by the people on the streets to people all over the world using pretty good vocals, wonderful production, and amazing lyrics.
Best Songs: Still Runnin', Please, Who I Want, Rich off Pain, Make it Out, Hats Off
Worst Songs: That's Facts, If You Want To, Voice of the Heroes