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Art is the fifth studio album by Finnish-American rapper Lil Squeaky, and was released on April 15, 2022. The album is solely produced and engineered by Squeaky, and features guest appearances from Koffdrop, Lil Jxck, Viper, Lil Eggnog, Yung Lambo, Homer Misnomer, Young Ryan G, HOOD GUY, Lil Mosquito Disease, Ivan Knight and the Imaginary Friends, Depp Gibbs, Payden McKnight, White Fury, CRZFawkz, & Beetlebat. Squeaky has described it as "the most based and positive album in the history of Flex Entertainment."

Background[]

Lil Squeaky signed back to Flex Entertainment in January 2022 after having left the label in April 2021. Immediately upon signing back, he began releasing music almost every week of the year for several months, as well as beginning to do feature verses and producing for other artists again.

However, Squeaky was not very warmly welcomed back into the label; following the release of his fourth studio album SITUATION in September 2021 and his NARCISSIST/Kanye Pooh EP in November, Lil Squeaky's reputation as an artist became significantly worse, with numerous fans completely turning on him and refusing to listen to his music, additionally saying he was never good to begin with. Chief among these fans was fellow Flex artist and once-frequent collaborator Yung Lambo, who frequently berated Squeaky and his recent releases for several months, escalating upon Squeaky's return to the label; Yung Lambo reportedly declined to sign Squeaky back to Flex after Squeaky reached out to him.

A public feud emerged between Squeaky and Lambo after Squeaky began repeatedly calling out Lambo for single-handedly dictating public opinion through "yelling loudly" and "never shutting up," which Lambo reportedly doubled down on. Squeaky also attributed the underperformance of his The Sex Tape project to Yung Lambo publicly brushing the album off as "mid" and calling it "slightly better Situation" before saying that "they both suck." The beef became particularly nasty after Squeaky and fellow Flex artist Hood Guy, who had released a collaborative album with Lambo at the end of 2021, released a joint diss track on Lambo titled "Back 2 Back." The diss track was based on an old Hood Guy leak released at the time of Lambo's "Hood Guy, Out!" EP, and was well-received by fans. This warm reception signified a turning point in the beef, as listeners called out Yung Lambo for not responding to the diss. The beef reached its peak on March 31 as Squeaky released "Super Gremlin (Yung Lambo Diss)", a widely acclaimed diss track on Yung Lambo based on Kodak Black's "Super Gremlin" where Squeaky calls Lambo out for suddenly switching his opinion on him for no reason, turning on Squeaky after he had helped Lambo so much early on, including mixing his Lambo Season album, and parading around the opinion that Squeaky was "mid." Lambo released a response track to the disses titled "Ima Dogg," which was widely panned by listeners for it's grating and pretty unlistenable nature. The beef resulted in Yung Lambo going from one of the most unquestioned and highly esteemed artists in Flex history to being widely ridiculed for his behavior and poor responses. The beef would be fully squashed as Yung Lambo would appear as a featured artist on Art. Squeaky utilized his increasing good will as a springboard for rolling out the album.

In the months between SITUATION's release and the end of 2021, Squeaky listened to a massive amount of music by Lil B, listening to upwards of 20 mixtapes by him in the span of about a month. Squeaky has stated that Lil B's positive messages and bold, raw delivery "changed his perception of music" and "soundtracked the beginning of his college years." The cloud rap elements and atmosphere, raw and conversational delivery, and often freestyled lyrics with themes of positivity and "the based lifestyle" were prominent aspects of Art owed to Lil B. Squeaky also credits Viper for influencing Art through his similarly raw and atmospheric music; Viper himself would feature on Art.

Art's production began in September 2021, shortly following the release of SITUATION. At the time, Squeaky wanted to focus on making a more authentic and genuine-sounding project after the backlash against SITUATION, and based much of his new artistic direction on the music of Lil B and Viper. The various singles and projects released between the two studio albums were made concurrently with Art. About half of the album's beats were finished or nearly finished in 2021, but vocal recording did not begin until January 2022. Squeaky announced that his contributions to the album were done in early March, over a month before the album's release, but he had to wait on almost all of his featured artists to turn in their verses. As time went by, the waiting for features became a public phenomenon, with many fans taking the initiative to hold the featured artists accountable and Squeaky proposing that he would replace the last few features with Lil Soz and Tending Bike. The album was finalized and distributed on April 10, just 5 days before it was released. White Fury reportedly turned in his verse less than an hour before his deadline after having postponed recording for several weeks, and Depp Richardson of the band Depp Gibbs reportedly freestyled his verse in four minutes.

Content[]

Art is considered a hip-hop album encompassing numerous different sounds, including trap, boom-bap, cloud rap, R&B, abstract hip-hop, and jazz rap. The album is more specifically seen as a cloud rap album due to the heavy use of altered samples, ambient synth pads, drums with heavy reverb, wide string instruments, and slow song tempos. The album is entirely self-produced.

The lyrical topics of Art notably feature "based messages," or lyrical statements regarding positive mindsets, self-improvement, partaking in a healthy lifestyle, and spending time outside. The lyrics also see Squeaky reflecting on various actions and decisions from both his childhood and more recent events. The lyrics also delve into themes of self-indulgence, food, fashion, sex, love, alcohol abuse, video games, and money, as well as deconstructing said themes as part of Lil Squeaky's artistic character. Squeaky has described his vocal delivery across many songs as a "speaking tone," partially due to having to keep relatively quiet while recording to avoid disturbing his neighbors. The album contains considerably less singing or melodic deliveries than his God Mode or In Development albums, and less strict flows than SITUATION, with Squeaky frequently shifting his flow and occasionally "disregarding the beat altogether." Many of the songs are rapped in a direct tone of voice with off-kilter intonation at times, which Squeaky partially attributes to rapper Wiz Khalifa. Squeaky has also stated that many of the songs are at least partially freestyled, and that the "scatterbrained lyrics across the album are part of its appeal."

Singles[]

The lead single for the album "Only One" featuring Hood Guy was released on March 18, 2022. It received praise for the positive energy and Hood Guy's hilarious verse, though Yung Lambo and his anti-Squeaky army criticized the song for being "bland". It peaked at No. 6 on the Flex Entertainment Hot 100.

The second single for the album "Darkness" featuring beetlebat was released on May 21, 2022. It was chosen as a single due to it being the most successful song on "Art," as well as its critical acclaim and shorter runtime than other Art tracks. It peaked at No. 10 on the Flex Entertainment Hot 100.

Chart performance[]

Art debuted at number three on the Braeden's Most Played Albums chart with 220,000 units sold. It was beat out by Lil Durk's "7220" and Josh Ramsay's "The Josh Ramsay Show." It tied for his third-highest charting album "God Mode." It is also the tenth top ten release in his career, tying Eminem for the most Top 10 albums on the chart.

Critical reception[]

Art was met with widespread acclaim from fans and highly positive reception from other listeners. The album has a score of 75 on music reviewing site AlbumOfTheYear, based on 28 reviews. Listeners praised the album's diverse production, atmosphere, messages and themes related to growth and positivity, Squeaky's performances, and integration of featured artists. Famous music reviewer TheDankestMeme gave the album a score of 87 out of 100, describing it as a "victory lap for Squeaky as he really comes into his own;" many other listeners agreed with the sentiment that Squeaky had honed his signature sound on Art. The album's main criticism was the long track lengths and lack of replayable singles, but its overall reception was still highly positive. Art was seen by many fans as a turning point for Squeaky's career and reputation, as he was no longer as heavily criticized and became highly esteemed in the label once more.

Charts[]

Chart (2022) Peak

position

Braeden's Most Played Albums 3

Certifications[]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Flex Entertainment Certifications (FLEX) Platinum 100,000
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