Corey Pro is a Houston-hailing rapper whose album, I Think About Things Too Much, came out in December 2015. The album’s title encapsulates Corey’s strengths and weaknesses. He is thoughtful. Staying true to yourself, strategizing, grinding, and ignoring negative people are some of the messages in Corey’s better songs. When he raps about these things, he becomes a poet speaking his mind. For this authenticity, his lyrics are relate and so enjoyable. But listening to I Think About Things Too Much after a while—and with sixteen songs averaging four to five minutes, I mean a while—you wish that Corey Pro would’ve whittled his thoughts down into something more developed and concise.
Good artists think a lot. But they also translate their ruminations into succinct art. Lots of the songs on I Think About Things Too Much didn’t do that. Corey’s weaker songs were like mediocre, unfiltered freestyles, and not recitations of refined, mulled-over thoughts. At times, his lines were unoriginal or banal. (Such as when he bragged that he was as “hot as a sweater.”) At their worst, the lyrics were as circular and repetitive as a ruminating mind. This problem became outright annoying when, at the end of each song, Corey had a conversation about his feelings with a deep-voiced interlocutor. Corey’s idea of breaking his psyche into two to show us his over-thinking was creative. But it went on for way too long, and I felt like I was listening in on strange therapy sessions where nothing profound was being said. It broke the flow of the album, and would’ve been better incorporated into the songs themselves as lyrics.
This is especially true since Corey’s delivery can be really good. At times, his voice reminded me of Kanye West’s in Late Registration and College Dropout. It had the same nasally rambunctiousness, a skilful syncopation in how it stressed certain syllables while downplaying others. This is particularly noticeable in “Livin’ the Life,” but it’s present throughout the album. He also has a knack for alliteration and internal rhyme (“I’m mad slick / like hat-tricks and gadgets”) and for playing with the multiple meanings of a word in short succession: “You get the cops to kill him because he’s killing y’all at your own game.”
Musically, I Think About Things Too Much was also hit-or-miss. Corey’s tendency to make his songs sprawling soundscapes made the album overlong. To be fair, it seems like Corey wanted his songs not to be to-the-point musical vessels for conscious hip-hop poems, so much as entrancing bangers that people could jam out to. They were often full of chanting, singing, and multiple layers of call-and-response shouts, all of which was usually successful. But after a while, the songs dragged on. The whole album wasn’t edited enough, and this came through in the music as well as in the lyrics. “My Nerves” is pretty guilty of this, with the minute and a half long stretch of auto-tune singing, drumming, and synth at the end of the song.
The instrumentals also seemed to oscillate between being catchy and kind of messy. The beat for “I Think About Things Too Much” was both. At first it was a bit disorderly, but then a certain harmony arose out of the various sounds. The emotional, rolling piano melodies of “Intro to Thought” were engaging, but verged on being repetitive and simplistic. The violin in “Bands” was cool and dramatic in an interesting way and “Squads Part 2” was hard not to bob your head to. Even though for the most part the beats tended towards spacey synth-based melodies, auto-tune, and intense hi-hat drumming, there was a lot of variety in them.
I Think About Things Too Much struck me as the work of someone who’s making inroads on being a hip-hop artist, but who has not yet refined his craft. This was confirmed for me when I heard Corey mention that he’s only seventeen in “Let It Out (Outro).” If that sounds condescending, I don’t mean it to be. It makes me respect Corey Pro a lot and appreciate I Think About Things Too Much more. The album is genuine, heartfelt, and despite its technical clumsiness, and its lack of being edited and mastered as much as it could have been, it showcases some real talent. That being said, I Think About Things Too Much is maybe more valuable as an artistic time-capsule, something that marks a specific point in Corey’s artistic journey. So let’s wait and see what Corey comes up with after some more time spent grinding, and refining lyrics. If he’s rapping circles around dudes his age, I want to see what he’ll be like in his mid twenties.