Bree Runway is razor-sharp. She is the perfectly constructed pop star, redefining boundaries but never going off course. With the ideal amount of anarchy and rebellion, she stretches the parameters of pop whilst remaining current and oddly familiar.
Bree Runway was independent for quite some time before she caught the attention of Virgin EMI Records in 2018. Her self-directed videos, e.g. ‘Butterfly’ in 2016 established herself as the sole curator of her image. Visuals have always been the nucleus of her brand, from Instagram aesthetics to immaculate dance routines.
This project does so much in such a short amount of time, so here’s a quick break down of each song on Bree Runway’s debut mixtape.
When the tracklist for 2000AND4EVA was released and it revealed that ‘APESHIT’ (which came out five months ago) was the opening song, I was hesitant as to whether starting with a song this good would create unattainable expectations for the rest of the mixtape to live up to, but I was not disappointed.
The energy that ‘APESHIT’ oozes is impossibly confident. It sets the pace for the entire project, and because every single song is so self-assured it acts a good omen to a very consistent run. With bars like “No Teyana but she’s ‘bout to catch a fade bitch” and “Snatchin’ everybody wigs, now they look like thumbs”; the Bree Runway brand is extremely strong, and she knows it.
2. LITTLE NOKIA / LITTLE NOKIA REMIX FT. RICO NASTY
The best way I can describe this song is that it sounds like if 2001-2007 Avril Lavigne had better melodies, and then was put in a wind tunnel. It is early 00’s cyber-pop, angsty teen punk, and rap all wrapped into a two-minute 19-second package.
This could be the soundtrack to a spoof slasher movie that hasn’t been released yet, and the last song, a Rico Nasty remix, is a natural addition; despite her eight bars making it kind of underwhelming.
3. ATM FT. MISSY ELLIOTT
If someone played me just the instrumental and said it was a Missy Elliott interlude from This is Not a Test! (2003) I wouldn’t bat an eyelid. It is oscillating and bouncy, and just by the use of the faded sirens layered beneath its drums, it only made sense for Missy to hop on it.
Missy’s influence is all over these songs; from the sporadic samples to the amalgamation of genres, there are clear crossovers in style and expression. This is not to say that Bree is a carbon copy, but both artists have an unbridled sense of pandemonium that is exciting to hear. Their shared love for megaphonic voice projections crosses the intersection of alarming and entertaining, and ‘ATM’ sees them co-manage this common ground.
4. DAMN DANIEL FT. YUNG BABY TATE
‘DAMN DANIEL’ is one of the most theatrical rap songs I have heard in a while. It is the most lurid song on the mixtape and definitely a contender for one of the best songs of the year.
It is filled with distinctive ’80s synths that sound like a neon fever-dream. The back and forth she does with Yung Baby Tate (who is at a similar stage in her career) is like they’ve been collaborating for years. On ‘DAMN DANIEL’ they construct a whole fictional narrative with plot progressions, character arcs and it even ends with a meditative message. Introducing themselves as ‘Keisha’ (Runway) and ‘Felicia’ (Baby Tate), they find out they are seeing the same guy, yet instead of fighting each other, they decide to join forces and fight Daniel instead.
Runway leads the duo, proclaiming that “He must’ve thought we was some dumb bitches or something / let me take off my weave” followed by a softer Baby Tate plotting “Uh uh not before I pull this trick out my sleeve!”. There are so many small moments that make this song so charming, especially the cautionary message about Daniel: “if you fuck with him, he’ll fuck all your friends”. This line is purposefully cheesy, as they start riffing off each other out of the blue, spewing sentiments about never trusting men for the rest of the song.
This song is vivid, spiralling into hyper-mode then slowing down, and as Yung Baby Tate aptly described, it is “The Boy is Mine but rap”. Unlike Brandy and Monica’s infamous friendship, the chemistry these two have is almost tangible, and personally I’d love to see an entire Yung Baby Tate and Bree Runway album.
5. ROLLS ROYCE
Here we see a return to a more maintainable pace. She flows on a reggae-lite beat with ease. Of course she’s as braggadocious as ever, emphasising her independence with lines like “we ain’t fighting for no table full of rich n*ggas / we pull up, get a table, we them rich n*ggas”. If ‘LITTLE NOKIA’ is a sharpened penknife, ‘ROLLS ROYCE’ is pointedly blunter.
Despite it being mellower, there are resounding sounds of what could be loading guns, bombs exploding or all of the above, scattered throughout – because even in her calmer moments she still has to cause a disturbance. As always, hearing Black women embrace their dark skin is positive, so in the hook when Bree says that her “skins dark like the windows tinted“ of the Rolls Royce, we love to hear it.
6. GUCCI FT. MALIBUU MITCH
Gucci is superbly self-indulgent. It is blacked out windows and superiority complexes; and Bree is living her best life “dripped in designer”. She is Gucci’s go-to girl and wants everyone to know. Some of her best bars are on this song, and Malibuu Mitch is an excellent accessory, aggrandising Bree’s ego.
The absurd materialism that she plays into is clearly her forte, and the narcissism that ‘GUCCI’ projects is less of an eye-roll, as its extravagancy makes it more light-hearted than anything else. Ultimately, Bree wants her friends at the top with her, and unlike her male peers – e.g. Future’s ‘fake friends’ paranoia or Drake’s ‘its lonely being at the top’ rhetoric, Bree’s style of friendship is purely fun. It’s being in the VIP area with her girls and endless luxury clothes.
The two music videos that accompany this song are just as mesmerising. She already has top tier videos and dances like she’s been doing choreography her whole life. This song is the biggest advocation for Bree Runways preordained projection to superstardom.
7. 4 NICOLE THEA & BABY REIGN
Runway dedicates a moment to her friend who suddenly passed away whilst heavily pregnant. Nicole Thea was a popular YouTuber and social influencer whose sudden death shocked the online community, especially as she was posting videos in preparation for her sons birth just days prior.
She is grieving a dear friend, taking a second to breathe in the middle of chaos. In this self-reflective minute, she is consoling herself by saying that she will see Nicole and Reign in heaven one day. It is sobering and personal, a much-needed expression of pain more than artistic feat or a ‘Bree Runway’ hit.
8. NO SIR (FREESTYLE)
As a return to form, this freestyle cements the Bree Runway formula, rounding off a truly seditious collection of songs. ‘NO SIR’ is the last piece of a full circle; meaning that you can go back to ‘APESHIT’, run the whole thing back again and it never seems like there is a distinguishable end.
The best way to summarise it is as calculated disorganisation. It is in the same vein as ‘LITTLE NOKIA’ but with less angst and more bravado. Her voice blaring “No sir you cannot sleep on me!” for about half of its running time, is one last push at proving herself. She draws boundaries, reaffirms her status and has an abject refusal to stand amongst the crowd. Even the switch-up to a more prototypical hip-hop beat in the middle is still slightly off-kilter because the convention is far too boring for Bree Runway.
At the end of a wild 22 minutes, we now have some sort of understanding of who Bree Runway actually is, and I’m certain she will continue to surprise us; as her music is far too spontaneous not too.