2020 has been an absolute dumpster fire, to put it nicely, but it has gifted us the mainstream rise of some of the most innovative and interesting pop stars in a long time. Ranking high on that list is none other than Bree Runway. The singer-songwriter-rapper-dancer-choreographer has been making serious waves online with her forward-thinking genreless music, expertly curated visuals, and genuine heart. With her latest mixtape, 2000AND4EVA, Bree Runway places herself squarely in a future that she can bend and transform at her whim. Blending hip-hop, pop, rock, punk, reggae, and more, Bree constructs a singularly innovative soundscape to trace the process of getting over ill-fated relationships.
Beginning with “Apeshit,” a brash and rousing opener, Bree immediately situates the mixtape with her at her most cocky, abrasive, and animated. A futuristic guitar riff anchors the track as Bree shouts out the “niggas that ain’t shit” in the Missy Elliott-inspired hook. The bass-heavy track sets the unapologetic tone for the album, and that Missy Elliott influence persists — the music legend herself actually materializes as a feature on one of the later tracks. “Little Nokia” sees Bree dabbling in early aughts pop with her flirty tone casting a glittery shadow over the track. Her harmonies and delivery evoke classic Britney Spears and *NSYNC, but it’s the inclusion of those infectious guitar riffs that perfect the song’s blend of rock and pop and send it two decades into the future instead of feeling dated. In addition, the Rico Nasty remix at the end of the mixtape ups the animation factor by ten levels. Notably, the genre blending on this song is reminiscent of the strongest tracks on Rina Sawayama’s SAWAYAMA, which makes sense as Bree appeared on the remix of “XS” from that album.
On “ATM,” Bree collaborates with her musical mother. The two have stellar chemistry and both rapstresses kill their slick verses about using their sex appeal to manipulate men for their money. Missy’s verse, in particular, is very enjoyable, faux British accent and all! The eclectic blend of dance and hip-hop has a slightly industrial feel that makes the song unique but still a clear choice for a radio single. Above all, it’s the haunting and criminally short bridge that makes “ATM” next level. “Damn Daniel,” a collaboration with Yung Baby Tate, follows and, again, sees Bree reaching to the past to inform the foundation of her sound before twisting it into something completely left-field. Thematically, Bree and Yung Baby Tate tackle the inevitability of disappointment from men; the refrain “If you fuck with him, he’ll fuck all your friends,” is a reminiscent of a more explicit The Writing’s On The Wall-era Destiny’s Child. Musically, “Damn Daniel” pulls from late ’80s/early ’90s hip-hop, but uses bright synths to catapult the song into the future. The following two tracks “Rolls Royce” and “Gucci,” are two sides of the same coin. Both songs bask in Black Girl Magic with a conscious focus on dark-skinned women living lives of luxury for themselves. The former is one of the more relaxed moments on 2000AND4EVA with its notes of reggae, gun clicks, and gorgeous background vocals. The latter, a collaboration with Maliibu Miitch, is just as catchy as it was when it initially dropped earlier this year.
Although it is just an interlude, “4 Nicole Thea & Baby Reign” is the most necessary moment on the whole project. The sparse atmospheric production allows Bree a brief moment of reprieve to truly address the pain that she avoided through dancing, retail therapy, and forcing a bolder persona earlier on the record. Finally, “No Sir (Freestyle)” ends 2000AND4EVA with a bombastic conclusion. Easily, the most aggressive track on the album, Bree raps “bust me down in VVS, I ain’t average/serving you drama, sex, fashion, couture” and that “you cannot sleep on me, no sir/I ain’t a cold serve.” She sports an otherworldly confidence as she demands acknowledgement of her endless versatility. In this way, we reach the center of the project. On 2000AND4EVA, Bree shapeshifts through seemingly disparate sounds and makes each one feel completely new. Bree Runway is truly ahead of her time and it’ll be a miracle if we ever catch up to her. “Real pop girl shit.”
Key Tracks: “Little Nokia” | “ATM” | “Rolls Royce”