One of the few archetypes that has not been beaten to death in gangster Rap is the “Everyman” – if only because no one really wants to be one. Gangster Rap has always thrived on the idea of the invincible villain that would let no man, woman or child stand in his way to riches. Since the late 80’s, the idea of the death dealing, super cool gangster pimp archetype has been ubiquitous in the culture. It’s not going away any time soon, but it is evolving. Over the last few years, Gangster Everymen has been coming to the fore front of Hip Hop. Of all the projects to explore this theme, Young Moe’s great Humble Hustle mixtape may be one of its most cohesive statements yet.
Young Moe’s approach is twofold: he plays with the concept of a working man who, tired of living in poverty, is driven to a life of crime with the dream that he will get out, and also raps about the day to day life of a coke dealer. There are no epic stories of being stopped by the police and getting out of it; no stories of fire fights and blazing at his enemies in the streets. Instead, Moe focuses on the particulars of a dangerous “profession”. On “Same Thing” he describes looking for a drug connect so that he can make fast and dirty deals on the street. He describes the long nights, coming home to his son in the morning, and never sleeping. There’s a heavy feeling of weariness that dominates the tape; it makes Young Moe’s tales all the more three dimensional. When you can adequately explain how physically exhausting dealing drugs and committing crimes can be, it can humanize you just as much as songs like “Dear Mamma” where he dreams of providing a better life for his mother. It’s an expression of love and honor that a drug dealing uber mensch like Young Jeezy may spit up hastily, but would never reflect upon.
In that way Humble Hustle is not just a randomly assigned title, but a synopsis of the project itself. Young Moe, in his mind, isn’t rapping or running in the streets because he wants to and most importantly he’s not a “Boss”. He doesn’t have an island with a thousand half naked female assassins. He’s not an underworld ruler pushing thousands of pounds of dope from Pakistanis- he’s a normal guy, stuck on a crummy mattress in a crappy dwelling in the worst part of the DMV, and he’s sick of it. He’s Michael Douglas in “Falling Down”, a normal man, pushed to do something unthinkable. On the convenient store heist tale “Tired of Being Broke” Moe distills the entire project perfectly “Amar crying, need milk/ and mama tryna get help, and I think God gave me the wrong hand, but I’m playing the one that he dealt. “ Every crime is a desperate one in his world. In that way, Young Moe is in the same class as Memphis’ Don Trip with his regretful drug dealing and openness about his baby mama problems and Danny Brown with his fractured criminality and drug addiction. Young Moe is a conflicted, normal person in a sorry situation. The only real departure of this story arch is “Get Away” where Young Moe speaks to a woman in a bad relationship that he is seeing on the low. For a piece that starts with the line “got yo pussy dripping like you are trying to get your feet wet.” It’s surprisingly deep and compelling. It’s not about crime, but it still plays to Young Moe’s everyman sensitivity. He’s not rapping about MOB, but trying to convince his loved one to come with him.
Young Moe is someone to watch this year. In fact all of the, unfortunately named, slutty bois and their affiliates are. Fat Trel, whose solid April Foolz mixtape made several year end lists in 2011, is fantastic here as a hyped up manic, and smooth voiced characters like Philadaphuture and Chris Bo provide nice foils to Young Moe’s raspy deliveries., Young Moe and his friends deliver a fully realized project that could easily top many year end lists in 2012. Here is a bizarro gangster Trap Rap mixtape that fills in the gaps left by caricature, and shows a real person’s struggle and strife in a very conflicted, shady world.
You can download Young Moe’s Humble Hustle at the address below.