A story of two compilations
Try to remember the last hip hop compilation album anyone was impressed by. The Self-Made series just seem to highlight how artificially put together MMG feels, if you go back to the G-Unit compilation it was the first indicator of how limited G-unit was conceptually. Preconceptions destroy the compilation; everyone creates an assumptive vision of what they are going to hear and when they don’t get it…its disappointment. What everyone seems to lose track of is that a compilation has a specific goal. It’s supposed to build a point and get you excited for the artists contained within. We shouldn’t hold a compilation to the same standards of cohesion that we do a solo project.
When Joey Bad@$$ put out his 1999 mixtape it was universally heralded but over time ,through water cooler twitter talk, got marked as a throwback project that wasn’t as creative as everyone thought. Whenever anything gets highly rated people stand in line to point at it and call it overrated. When Joey’s crew, Pro Era, dropped their PEEP the aPROcalypse mixtape you could feel the critical tide turning against them. Beyond the perception the 17 tracks are jammed with names you aren’t familiar with but should be. Of course, Joey and Capital STEEZ stand out and steal the show on more than a few posse tracks (Last Cypher is an example) but that’s not the point at all. The point is how different CJ Fly is from Joey and how different Kirk Knight is from either. This is a group of teenagers who genuinely love making rap music. While PEEP might not have radio bangers (F A Rap Critic is probably the closest thing) its an introduction to a group of talented young people destined to put out their own interesting projects. It’s a promise of more to come and a piece of music that by itself grows on you if you give it time. It’s a slow groove not built purely on boom bap instead seeming like the natural offspring of native tongues and Primo.
Tree Featuring The City doesn’t suffer from any kind of missed subtlety. It blares, snarls, and thumps. No human being on earth sounds like Tree. He’s hands down the Howlin’ Wolf of trap, producing the entire 18 track mixtape himself (as he did his own and Tone Skeeta’s EP). Vic Spencer is probably the only person who sounds weird enough to be in his sound-sphere and when they stand side by side on the song Jay’s the comparison shrivels. As sandpaper rugged as speaker testing tracks like Dat Chevy and Way Too Blatant are Jays is just as smooth and showcases the complete control Tree has over his voice as a weapon. Vic Spencer is still full of bluster and humor flirting while admitting to having stains on his shirt. Like I said compilations have a reason and the reason for this one is to form an understanding of Chicago beyond the drill scene being thrust to the forefront. Some players are familiar like Naledge and Chance The Rapper but others like Tone Skeeta, Blanco Caine, and Agacee are people you might not have heard before and all present themselves well. Chicago hip hop is bigger than Keef, King L, and Lupe. Tree featuring The City showcases that.
Peep the aPROcalypse showcases how much of a loss the suicide of Capital STEEZ really was. Pick his verse from Interlude 47 where he gently seduces or K.I.N.G.S. where he stews in the fear of death, the nature of his soul…he was so damn good. You can try and sever the tragedy from this project but you won’t be able too. This one more than his solo mixtape carries the sadness of his loss, the depth of his artistic character as its legacy.
Tree Featuring The City is almost an optical illusion. Knowing that I am a terrible rapper, even I sat back and asked myself if Tree did the hook, the beat and all I had to do was come up with a verse…I think that song would still be good. If you don’t believe the hypothesis check out his Whitney Houston sample on She Ain’t Wit Nobody, Tree can take a song literally everyone knows and find the second no one has sampled yet. He’s gifted on three levels and ready to put his music where no one can ignore it. Even by creating a project to throw the focus on his city it ends up with him as the beating heart of it. He knew what he was doing and that’s kind of the point.
check both compilations out below