Mexicana emcee Snow Tha Product (Claudia Feliciano) can't help but be a novelty in rap, but her skills give a different description. While trying to carry both the Latin American and female communities of hip-hop on her back at the same time, the San Diego native also craves accomplishment. Maybe her greatest one at the time of its release, the Unorthodox LP of 2011 established her very well with believers in albums, and a case of mixtapes including 2012's Good Nights & Bad Mornings and her most recent, last year's The Rest Comes Later, meant the sassy "spitstress" is consistent and capable of longevity. With the fame came business-minded attention however. Snow signed with Atlantic Records around 2012, and now, we have her before-the-debut EP Half Way There... Pt 1 (released June 17).
You might think that this type of project shouldn't be given an album review since it's simply a small taste of what Snow's currently been serving musically but considering it's her first major marketable project beneath Atlantic, who could resist? It's also what the label wants us to expect from her under their aegis. Of course Half Way There sounds like it was no doubt prepared and packaged with supervision from the artist and repertoire people of Atlantic so why did Snow jump in bed with them to begin with? Roughly half of the EP can be appreciated for what sound hip-hop lyrics it does have, but the other half has been laxed to pop standards with emphasis on glistening choruses and other teeny bopping vocals. Snow has been forced to sacrifice part of herself to appease Atlantic's public relations agenda and designed image and sound likeness geared toward maximum profit margins. How far the tall hath fallen.
In "No Cut," Snow tries for hard steely braggadocio and just about gets there with voice clips complimenting her and knocking down female rapper stereotypes, and she denies her affiliation with any one label and the fact that she may be "thirsty for dollars," but again, she's already sold herself to Atlantic so the message unfortunately becomes hollow. The poppy cool-out period of "Nights" featuring W. Darling makes way for some of Snow's burdens, worries and frustrations in decent rap form for the "Too Much" interlude before she attempts toughness with Ohana Bam in "Get Down Low." Another pop cut, "Alright" with PnB Rock, does normal inconsequential couple's disputes and then the "Too Much To Take" interlude provides something useful by way of Snow rapping on being poor, not fitting in and having social anxiety earlier in life.
"Nuestra Canción (Our Song)" rapidly sung almost entirely in Spanish can be safely concluded as being a party/love track with its kind soft music backdrop and snappy clap hits in the beat. It smartly has just enough English to clue in non-Spanish speaking listeners. Lastly, "Not Tonight" seems like it's almost women's independence propaganda as Snow forestalls love in it and shuts herself off from the possibility of finding someone early rather than later. To her label, that is the last song of the EP for a deliberately decided reason.
The Half Way There Pt 1 EP is basically Atlantic Records talking through Snow Tha Product, who is essentially a tool of the company here, played with and monkeyed with as stipulations of her deal with them most likely. There are pockets of good rapping here and there, but really nothing is shocking, controversial or offensive deep down. It is so imperative that good rapping women like Snow succeed, but they like everyone else, guy or girl, must understand that their salvation does not lie in the hands of the biggest multi-million dollar music stables of the industry. It lies in their being independent with freedom of speech, something which has been largely curtailed and restricted of Snow on the project. She gets out just a little bit of what she really wants to say but definitely not all of it, and her usually sharp, biting, lyrical style has been heavily sanitized. What she should do now is get out of her Atlantic deal as soon as possible in the best way possible and in the interim, fight them tooth and nail for as much artistic autonomy as she can pry from their corporate jaws.