I-20 The Intermission mixtape review
A survey was done in my high school (the reason no one knows) and the female students all voted humor as the most attractive trait in a romantic companion. I was young and snickering, thinking “These football players ain’t that funny.” Some of our accepted opinions are a cover for our real opinions. Another example, whenever hip hop fans get together and claim that all they want from their favorite artists is consistency. The truth is we want that break out, transcendent, moment and if an artist doesn’t give it to us we won’t pay them much attention.
If everyone really prized consistency than everyone would love I-20; over the past few years he’s been the most consistent artist I can think of. On his new mixtape, The Intermission, he continues to make his own case by pounding each verse with his trademark deep voice and slow delivery like a blacksmith making swords.
Its 14 tracks in total and 8 of them are produced by DJ Pain 1 who is the production equivalent of the mixtapes star. Pain 1 does great work for Rain, Joe Budden (on his most recent oversharing mixtape “A Loose Quarter”)and doesn’t really blow anyone away. His beats move and pop with a soulful 70’s bop but don’t ever shock, his signature might be how many people have said “this beat is good, who does this?” and had it be him.
Even a song titled Kush Clouds doesn’t yield the lyrical content you think it would. I-20 starts off ferociously over an understated Pain 1 beat. “Ok…I am now in grind mode, writing every day now. N#$%’s still hating on me, tell them pull a Seau.” The reference to NFL legend Jr Seau’s suicide aside, he begins it with the grind. Not the grind of street money but the grind of rapping. One of the themes of The Intermission is working hard and not giving up. You can find it wrapped up in stressful determination on the warm soul bap of Living Wrong “There’s a window to your soul I’m tryin’ to open yours, cause you don’t know the strength of spirit till they’ve broken yours.” I-20 references his 12 years in the game with pride like an old gunfighter who is never mocked for being old but instead respected for his survival as others fall.
The Intermission is not just a bottomless well of aggressive determination. It’s an interesting discussion about relationships, having in common with most interesting discussions its contradictory stature. On the song Insane he pumps out nasty sex joke after nasty sex joke comparing himself to a dentist the way he is in women’s mouths and making a connection between sex and poop that most wouldn’t have thought of. It’s odd because earlier in the tape he laces a morally upstanding verse about the opposite sex “To me I never judge her I’m only out to court her. Instead of giving orders look to support her, so I wont have a dime n#$% wrapping up my quarter (My Addiction).” He makes a delineation that while he is only out to court, the only realistic way to keep a woman is to treat her well. Doesn’t sound ground breaking but in rap its not something you hear all the time.
When I saw the last song title was Ballad For A Queen I was mystified as to how it would play out. Even though the chorus is very schmaltzy “I wonder if I’m worthy of your patience and your loyalty, so I decided to remind you you are royalty, been with me through the hustle and the struggles in between. So dedicated…this a ballad for a queen.” He goes as hard on that track as he does on any other. The same vicious intensity he has ripping the unknown lazy mc he has in lifting up the woman this song is for. It’s what makes the song and the mixtape so interesting. He feels earnest when he’s disgusting and when he’s giving out wisdom like “Never dwell on what’s said, trust me I have seen lies, cause once they get inside your head n#$%%^ than the dream dies…(Kush Clouds)”
I-20 mixtapes are always interesting and The Intermission is no exception, they always crawl into the rotation. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had about doing an I-20 review and its time to do it. He’s been so good for so long I hope that if anyone reads this they think about all the inconsistency they have had to suffer through from their favorite artist and click on the link below. Give a solid artist with a developed vision a chance.
The Intermission can be streamed or downloaded at the link below: