Mixtape Review-Bo Deal-Thug Education 101
The seismic split between the Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame sides of Brick Squad might not seem like the splintering of Genghis Khan’s empire after his death (It really shouldn’t) but it does mark a profound chaotic time for the participants and fans. Each and every member of the BSM clique will likely be forced to beef alongside one sect or the other.
The new Bo Deal mixtape, Thug Education 101, showcases key musical differences that define team Waka. While Gucci Mane is a cagey Bukowski-like character turning painful images into slick braggadocio his image is everything. Team Waka yells hard, gets wild, and says what happened no matter how it makes them look. The best example from Thug Education 101 is when Chicago MC Bo Deal is describing his childhood on the track True Story. He gets into his childhood in ways few MC’s would behind one of three gun cocking haunted house crunk beats by YK Beats “My aunty used to keep me she was gangster like Suge. She would whoop my @$$ every chance that she could. Started fighting back was the only f___ key there, s__ ain’t never good getting beat on by a female. I used to cry…go and feed my fish.” Forget the fact that he follows this with talking about getting his teeth knocked out, you can spin that into a tough guy persona. Do you know of any more sympathetic image than a kid so downtrodden after a beating from his aunt that his only hope is to give his fish a better life? This is not a slow song with piano. It’s the same magic potion that created the tracks on Flockaveli that Bo rapped on.
Sure you can find autotuned silly over the top hooks like the one on Make It Back and Bo Deal says terrible things on more than one occasion but it carries with it a powerful forward movement of sound and a sincerity of authorship. Im A Opp is a dizzying series of cross admissions, a roadmap of Chicago MC beef and the forceful declaration from Bo that he won’t give into it (“I don’t care what you think about it…I F___ with my whole city”). It’s definitely confusing to have a mixtape that is so much about violence and paranoia (see songs like Heater and Snake N’s) but at the same time about personal experience and maturity. In terms of maturity the song I Can Feel It is strange, cheesy and lovable. Bo Deal sings the hook and its about his children (for the most part) and the two relationships that birthed them(“I met another girl forgot about my other girl, things happen, now she got pregnant…I had another girl.”) I was always braced for him to tear into the women but he ends the song by saying how happy he is his children have great mothers. It’s almost as odd as the song cutting off mid chorus.
So you can get a lot of things from this. Classic Trap-A-Holics follow the bouncing ball beats, songs about pouring up; getting high, sexual congress with women indiscriminantly or enforcing your dominance on competition but you’ll catch weird gems of truth that Bo Deal can’t help but leak it out. He understands that at its base this mixtape has a mission to fulfill. The same way television exists to sell commercial products but sometimes can do more, Thug Education 101 is fun goon music with a personal journey you’ll have to search for to find. You might hate it, call it dumb, and I understand. I like dumb music on occasion I like smart music even more than both I love sincere music. That’s what you’ll find on the Waka, Bo Deal, Frenchie, Wooh Da Kid side of the BSM ledger. It’s why I prefer it.
Stream or download Thug Education 101 below: