I-20 The Amphetamine Manifesto Review
It must take a lot of gumption to be I-20. He’s released great mixtape after great mixtape while getting minimum coverage/buzz. The hip hop internet-verse is a place where a rapper who can’t rap but has a weird voice can become the darling of the scene. While going track by track through I-20’s new mixtape The Amphetamine Manifesto you can listen for the frustration and you won’t find it.
The first track is a perfect introduction to the I-20 state of mind. What other rapper would brag about being one deep because he can’t trust anyone? It’s certainly not a co-incidence that the tape has one feature. It makes sense that the feature is under-respected and talented Black Rob (on Say No More). The chorus of 1 Deep is a high arched vocal sample talking about not trusting anyone. He rides a triumphant Trakksounds beat adding to the paranoia “Yea, I know they f#cking with you…you the sh#t now but see how fast they dip when the chips down.” Quoting I-20 lyrics is always strange because the ferocity with which he says them is almost indescribable. Reading the chorus to I’m On won’t give an impression of how viciously determined he says “F#ck that N#$% with her I’m On.” It’s not about stealing someone’s girl or getting the affection of a stripper, the determination in that f word is to prove to everyone how good he is. He laces his passion and drive in each verse of the song spitting “Come right or don’t come at all. Stand tall I won’t run at all. And 1, I come to ball,” like a pledge not a brag.
Dj Pain 1 produces 5 of the ten tracks per usual and knocks every beat out of the park. A lot of people do soulful hip hop beats but most do them like J. Cole beats where they become sleepy and passive. Pain 1 has a knack for placing that special bounce to give beats like Certified and Louie Luggage enduring value. They don’t head nod you to sleep, they get in your face and jam. Dirty Dunnz lends 3 fantastic beats to the mix (my favorite beat of the tape on Wonder). Dunnz lays samples of exquisite quality in the all the right places (see the track You Don’t Know).
I-20 doesn’t change his style; you will never hear him drop a dub step album. He comes from a long fearless lineage of artists who build their style, project by project. A lot of the songs seem like they should be about loneliness. When he talks about the places he’s been with his Louie Luggage, you feel the strain of all the travel. As lonely as it should feel it doesn’t. He makes the case from start to finish that as long as he has his music to keep him company he has a lasting satisfaction. The satisfaction that he is great and can get better, his will to not just carry on under-appreciated but improve until he’s un-ignorable is what clears away any of the emotional negativity you hear in other rappers. Lines like “I just got a taste of heaven I ain’t trying to spit it out (Certified).” That taste of heaven is the fact that his art can be so much better and it is. The Amphetamine Manifesto is significantly better than The Intermission(his previous mixtape which we also reviewed) and it’s because every second of it is carried by unswerving resolve.
You can stream or download The Amphetamine Manifesto below: