Being a one-of-a-kind in rap nowadays proves to be pretty tough. Not for Bruiser Wolf whose approach is both pimp-slick and off-kilter in equal measure.

Release date: January 12, 2024 | Bruiser Brigade/Fake Shore Drive | Instagram | Twitter | Stream/Purchase

Bruiser Brigade is wildly underrated still. Outside of Danny Brown, the members past and present are mostly doing their own underground thing, but it’s perhaps because of Danny Brown‘s success that sees him hovering just around the mainstream line that a lot of shine has also hit various members. I shout out ZelooperZ whenever I can as he’s my fave, but someone else really climbing up in terms of relevancy, skill, and memorability is Bruiser Wolf.

This also-Detroit rapper featured late last year on Danny Brown‘s phenomenal Quaranta album and honestly, he ended up being one of my favorite parts of that record. His unique-ass storybook flow and cadence was/is reminiscent of old school hip-hop rappers like Melle Mel (HEAR ME OUT) feeling out their craft, except much more astute and skillful with thirty years of lyrical advancement behind him. I think of flow scientists like E-40 being progenitors for dudes like Bruiser Wolf to come in with whimsically weirdo approaches to street-smart spoken-word slaughters and that’s exactly what you get on My Story Got Stories.

Across 14 tracks, Bruiser Wolf is wholly himself, elevating his own personality and playing to some familiar tropes while staying unique thanks to his technical chops. His flow on “Waiting In The Lobby” reminds me of Scarface‘s legendary “I Seen a Man Die” with his evocative beginnings to bars that taper off into a lower registered, fatigued end with the hook. This fits along well with the more somber beat as the lyrics remark on the throes of raising a kid with a toxic baby mother involved. The next track “Dope Boy” reflects on his own childhood of (allegedly) being a drug dealer with pristine enunciation and clever wordplay that only fellow hustlers (or learned rap fans) will pick up on and lends some levity to an otherwise destitute story:

I wonder if they can tell I’m a dope boy
My first toy was a scale, I had no choice
Money talk, I had no voice
My mom was gone, I had no joy

It’s square dancin’ when I’m steppin’ on the weight
The white girl hard to get, and I love to chase
We ’bout to eat off this, say the grace
I hit it just right, it’s ready for you to taste

That’s where Bruiser Wolf really excels – aside from his delivery making him stand out, dude is just funny much of the time. “2 Bad” is a great one to point out as it features both ZelooperZ and Danny Brown getting wild on the mic on the same sample that was on “1Train” (which makes it the second time Danny’s graced it) – if you miss the ‘old’ Danny, check this track out. Wolf’s on his pimp shit on this song with a few cheeky bars like ‘my dick game genius, they want a stroke of it‘ or ‘she’s bisexual, going crazy on the pole – bipolar‘ which I admit isn’t the most clever thing in the world, but it got a chuckle out of me. “Looney Tunes” is a fun track that seems to reference Bruiser Wolf‘s almost cartoonish inflection, flush with wild references and wordplay as well, but something about how Wolf’s voice was mixed relative to the beat feels a bit off to me, like this was a rough, freestyle-esque cut that got forged into a song. It’s fine, but an outlier all the same.

“I Was Taught To” has a tougher trap-influenced beat and features Trinidad James(?!?) and a very catchy chorus that melds Wolf’s (ALLEGED) drug-slinging past and pimp game. I also must point out the lines, ‘My name ring like I’m callin’ you/Facetime bitch – you better watch who you talkin’ to‘ which genuinely made me laugh out loud. The efficiency at which he builds punchlines from seemingly nothing is the underrated rags-to-riches story on My Story Got Stories. I will say as more of a warning than anything else that Bruiser Wolf‘s flow and rapping overall won’t be for everyone. It’s melodic, but… not, if you get what I mean. Like, just click play on any song on this review and see what I mean. I really like it – there’s something to be said for the distinctiveness that he raps with and the stuttered sort of cadence isn’t a turn-off for me.

I do want to take some time to shout out the production specifically because it’s the underrated star of the album. The lion’s share of which are sample-based beats with a lot of soul and ambience to them by Raphy like “Waiting In The Lobby”, “Crack Cocaine” and “G’z & Hustlaz”. They’re watermarked with the low health warning sound effect from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and go off into different directions from there – I mean, just listen to the three songs I just mentioned and see how varied they are. Thanks to him and other producers Harry Fraud, Ejay Beatz, greg Zola, Dag, wizkiddxsilev, and of course Skywlkr, the album has a neat summery air to it despite releasing during the dead cold chill of winter. Play this and see if you don’t feel the room get warmer.

Aside from a pretty good album from 21 Savage, My Story Got Stories leads off 2024 with a great rap entry. It’s got production, personality, and purposed lyrics and performance. It goes far to establish him as a great part of Detroit’s underground rap repertoire as the city continues moving past the legacy of Eminem and associates. Bruiser Brigade‘s got some shit to say and Bruiser Wolf is becoming a larger-than-life voice among them and the region. If you like a comedic edge to your rap or music in general, and appreciate one-of-a-kind oddball performers, this is a must. Keep both eyes out, you nerds.

David Rodriguez

David Rodriguez

"I came up and so could you, and fuck the boys in blue" - RMR

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