Following the lukewarm reception of her studio debut “Trendsetter” in 2022, Coi Leray faced criticism from critics who questioned her ability to stand on her own in the music industry, given her semi-estranged relationship with her father, Benzino. The album was slammed for its excessive guest appearances, heavy use of autotune, and lack of artistic cohesion. Instead of being seen as a self-made star, she was labeled as a product of nepotism with a misused production budget.
Despite the negativity, Coi Leray remained determined and saw the experience as a stepping stone in her journey. Now, she returns with her sophomore effort, aptly titled “COI,” reclaiming her spot in the spotlight. This time, she strips away the excessive features and autotune, refocusing on her eclectic influences, talent for pop hooks, and sex-positive flow.
On “COI,” Leray defies the critics’ expectations, eschewing current trends to build the album around a diverse selection of blockbuster samples from various genres and decades. The choices are driven by Leray’s personal taste, resulting in a record that truly represents her musical influences, something that was missing in “Trendsetter.” The unique references reinforce her position as an artist rather than detracting from it.
Unlike the chaotic and trend-chasing approach of her debut, “COI” takes a more deliberate path. Leray explores her influences through brash samples like reworking the Hall & Oates rock classic in “Bitch Girl” and updating the Lesley Gore classic in “My Body” to reflect modern times. Collaborating with a smaller but impactful supporting cast, including viral stars like Saucy Santana and Lola Brooke, as well as David Guetta and Skillibeng, Leray effortlessly navigates dance-pop, rock, post-punk, and dancehall, paying homage to genres she deeply appreciates.
Despite the changes, “COI” retains the elements that fans loved about Leray from the beginning. The retro-sampled “Players” and Neptunes-inspired “Bops” showcase her knack for crafting infectious hooks. It’s a testament to her growth and willingness to address feedback, demonstrating that she’s committed to honing her craft while remaining true to her unique style.
While some hip-hop fans might be hesitant after the disappointment of “Trendsetter,” “COI” proves that Coi Leray is an artist unafraid to take artistic leaps and embrace women’s empowerment and underdog grit. The album exudes a fun and irreverent energy, leaving plenty of room for further growth and exploration in her musical journey.