Money Man‘s “24” is a deceptive memorial song. Released in February, weeks after Kobe Bryant’s untimely death, it teases a moment of reflection and nostalgia that never comes. Within the first 20 seconds, the Atlanta rapper eulogizes the deceased Laker by throwing out, “R.I.P. Kobe Bryant, R.I.P. 24.” From there, Money Man seemingly forgets to pay homage to one of the greatest basketball players who ever lived. The line “Grew up in the trap watching Kobe yam on a nigga,” delivered halfway through the first verse, is the only other time Bryant is referenced. Instead, Money Man opts to put on a clinic of breath control and one-liners. The total disregard for decorum in favor of showing off one’s preternatural abilities is weirdly the most fitting tribute one could give to Bryant, and months later, Money Man has decided to double down with a new version of the song featuring Lil Baby.
For three minutes, Money Man and Lil Baby give one of the purest examples of a flow that has dominated the past year. In practice, it sounds like a torrent of syllables and metaphors delivered in quick succession. Imagine someone trying to read a phonebook’s worth of flexes through an Auto-Tuned gargle in the fastest amount of time possible, and one can begin to picture what makes “24” so amazing. To his credit, Lil Baby effortlessly matches Money Man’s energy, with a verse that operates like a victory lap. There’s the technical whirlwind of Baby forcing a flurry of end rhymes — “imposter” gets contorted to rhyme with “gossip,” while “possum” is matched with “chop him” — while also bragging about his chart domination. If the lasting impact of Kobe Bryant’s legacy was about winning at all cost, then “24” more than lives up to that ideal.
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