Victor Oladipo is a very talented young man. The Indiana Pacers shooting guard is good for 15 points a game, has a name worth at least 21 points in Scrabble (depending on placement, it could rack up 63 or more), and has the booming singing voice of an absolute angel.
Victor first hinted at this secondary talent during the 2015 All-Star Weekend Dunk Contest—coming out of the tunnel dressed like a member of The Rat Pack and singing Sinatra’s “New York, New York” with a mixture of Usher’s swagger, Seal’s crystal-clear tone, and the lack of singing-related shame that only actual singers or tenured locker-room crooners show. He then ditched the suit and eventually threw down a 540-reverse dunk on his third attempt (haters will say it was closer to a 360, but the perfect 50 the judges gave him nullifies that babble).
After eventually losing to Zach LaVine in 2015’s contest, Vic’s vocal talent has gone nearly as unnoticed as the fact that Indiana has decided that they’re okay with Oladipo being their No. 1 star moving forward.
That is, until this past summer.
In August 2017, he dropped his first ever single, “Song For You,” which straight up sounded like John Legend sang a song written by a horned up 12-year-old. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hater but V.O. (that’s the name he’s releasing music under—like Bart Simpson’s “Bartman” moniker) did not prove to be the second coming of Marvin Gaye with his leadoff ballad: “She said it wasn’t her first rodeo, so I took her shopping on Rodeo; Beamer, Benz, or Bentley—she wasn’t impressed—so I had to show her that S on my chest.” Yeeeesh … Maybe that dunk was only a 360.
I remained hopeful though—his vocal ability must outshine his songwriting at some point, right? We found out the answer to that question when V.O. released his debut EP, “Songs For You,” earlier this month.
Okay, the bad news is that the songwriting does not get better. It’s very sophomoric and just unbearable throughout the whole EP. I’ll give V.O. the benefit of the doubt—he plays basketball professionally year-round (fortunately for his musical career, he won’t have to worry about scheduling conflicts during the playoffs for at least a couple seasons) and he is only 25. Even an NBA player who has spent his formative years as a handsome millionaire celebrity hasn’t really lived enough to warrant seven full-ass ballads and only one 2 Chainz feature.
Thankfully, though, for V.O., there is some very solid tracks that may salvage the project. The lyrically disastrous “Unfollow” (it boasts lyrics like: “Too much time alone, it’s too dangerous When I ain’t got shit to do but look for the girl with the cool butt”) is a real dumb song about Vic having sex with treacherous NBA fans and feeling some type of way about it. Regardless, it’s got a solid hook and cool drums—it’s like an Usher song from his “I cheat on girls, but I’m sorry about it” phase. The best Usher phase, probably.
The next track, too—it’s called “One Day” and I’m not even trying to understand what it’s about, but I could dance in the rain to it like I’m a living Ne-Yo music video, and that’s my personal standard of excellence for modern R&B music.
Again, another song called “Still Want You” is such a bop that you will absolutely ignore the fact that Oladipo is singing about like 10 different things, and at some points nothing at all. I do not know who produced these tracks for Vic, but he owes them at least two tips of his un-ironic fedora.
We do need to discuss how wack the track with 2 Chainz is. As a white millennial, a 2 Chainz feature makes me freak out like how Greg Kinnear makes my mom freak out, and Victor Oladipo absolutely squandered an opportunity to have a goddamn hit single with Tity Boi. The song starts off sounding like knockoff Frank Ocean—Store Brand Frank Ocean—or Fredrick Lakely or something like that. Then Vic comes on singing “Wave yo’ flags, you don’t want no smoke, ‘cause everything you got still won’t come close. I came into this world with my back against the ropes, so watch this foot work, it’s the Rope-A-Dope.”
My guy, is this a WeDay commercial? Is this a charity thing? Did you write this song just so high schools would finally have one family-friendly 2 Chainz verse to play at pep rallies? I’m confused. After Victor is done his singing, 2 Chainz finally comes in and spits THE LAZIEST VERSE OF ALL TIME! I was sick listening to it for the first time—whatever cheque Vic cut 2 Chainz, it obviously wasn’t enough to make the former Duffel Bag boy care about this song even a goddamn little bit. Don’t get me wrong—it’s still a decent verse, because 2 Chainz is a consummate professional and feature verses are his bread and butter—but I could practically hear my guy falling asleep in the booth.
My closing thoughts on this project are this: Keep trying, V.O. I’m a 22-year-old, straight white man who does not have an opinion you should value—but at the same time, your EP is sorta cheeks dude! Pay your life-saving producers well, hire some songwriters and next time you release something it better have at least four Lance Stephenson verses in it—he’s the undisputed best MC in the NBA (don’t come at me in the comments talking about Damian Lillard if you listen to J. Cole) and he’s on your goddamn team!
I’m gonna have to rate this album now, I guess, right? Okay … I give this EP 2.5 2016–2017-Russell-Westbrook-drive-and-kicks-that-resulted-in-bricked-three-pointers out of 5. No wait … I give this EP 5 sleepy “TWOOOOO CHAAAAAAIIIINS!” adlibs out of 10.
This EP is a 5/10. The fun production and the pure vocal ability that Victor Oladipo possesses drags the project across the finish line. Check out the tracks “Unfollowed” and “Still Want You” for fun bouncy R&B, and the track “Rope-A-Dope” to hear 2 Chainz take a paid nap.