Album Review: “15”
Bhad Bhabie has spent the years since her infamous Dr. Phil interview deflecting a barrage of public scrutiny, but she may have effectively solidified her spot in the industry (and justified her nomination for a Billboard Music Award) with her most recent release, “15.”
Danielle Bregoli, known professionally as Bhad Bhabie, closed out her jam-packed summer with her first full-length album. With purpose and clarity, Bhad Bhabie asserted that she’s done proving herself, and she’s much more than “The Cash Me Ousside Girl.”
The album opens with “15 (Intro),” backed by an almost GarageBand-preset-sounding beat. Functionally, the track crafts a perfect introduction, unfortunately preparing listeners for a level of tediousness, while still maintaining a much improved and near-impressive flow.
Here, Bhad Bhabie explains the album’s title, reminding listeners not only of her fame, fortune and clout, but her youth, rising to the top of her game at only 15: “15 milli stalkin’ the IG / So why in the f–k would I need an ID?”
Her stand-out single “Hi Bich” has finally settled in, this time surrounded by work of a higher caliber than previous releases. This track, which originally launched her into the Billboard 100, offers a simplistic beat with deafening bass that narrowly leaves room for Bhad Bhabie’s vocals.
The album, aptly featuring 15 tracks, continues with “Affiliated” featuring Asian Doll, Bhad Bhabie’s partner on her summer Bhanned in the U.S.A. Tour. Inoffensive beats provide a harsh and needed juxtaposition to Asian Doll’s opening verse. Asian Doll returns at the end of the track for light banter and insults between laughter that grant personality and adds a lightheartedness to Bhad Bhabie’s “bad” act.
Like “Affiliated,” the rest of the album is littered with young talent, featuring rising acts as Lil Baby on “Geek’d.” But on some tracks where Bhad Bhabie is forced to fly solo, energy wavers with her lack of ability to rely on the guidance of more experienced rappers.
The album dives to a low on “Shhh,” with a less-than-repetitive hook and minimal lyrical and rhythmic diversity, before immediately rising (and slowing) into “Trust Me.” Here, Bhad Bhabie offers a melodic hook backed by hype from Ty Dolla $ign, whose verse proves the most supportive and dynamic on the album.
Bhad Bhabie still occasionally spirals into deep repetition in flow, but attempts to recover as most present rappers do — by falling back on triplets; this can be seen in tracks like “Bout That,” where the chorus begs for a break from monotony.
Yet she finishes with the strong and wholesome narrative “Bhad Bhabie Story (Outro),” explaining her background and telling off critics over a steady beat. She offers depth and sensitivity, diving into harsh family struggles, and, awestruck, presents a critical retelling of her own rise to fame.
While easy to write-off a foul-mouthed child-star-turned-rapper, Bhad Bhabie has made clear her infiltration into the industry. Much improved from her debut single, she luckily has plenty of time and connections for improvement, and “15” proves that she’s willing to continue to put in the effort.