Mixtape Review-Culture Junky by Translee
If I called Translee a weirdo I’m not sure that would be a good enough summation. You might think of Kool Keith-Black Elvis in Space or Cam’ron dressed up like the Pink Panther. Instead, it would be better to say Translee doesn’t believe in the conventional hip hop song. He packs hilarity, serious political and racial discussion, and sometimes word games into tracks and before his new Culture Junky mixtape it wasn’t typically done in an organized fashion.
The way people felt about Chance The Rapper’s Acid Rap last year is how I feel about Culture Junky. The same kind of super-lyrical word flipping is displayed here and in a dizzying fashion. Even the second track (The City) which is supposed to be a slowed down syrupy DJ Screw tribute is acrobatic to the point where you might break into applause “Conversate anonymous and contemplate hypothesis, a weed smoke sarcophagus, an Alabama narcissist shaking like its parkinsons…” if the tape was all word games it would go from amazing to annoying pretty quickly.
Out of sixteen total tracks Todd Marshall produces nine of them and proves to be a capable ringmaster for the circus unfolding over his sonic landscape. He provides the thick, full flavored, straightforward 1-2 that propels Translee into weirder and weirder subject matter. On Climax the story of picking up a young lady at the Waffle House and becoming sexual partners provides details that the sex itself lasts only ten minutes (I literally fist pumped at hearing this). I’m willing to bet Trans never even thought about adjusting it into an “all night long” situation. He doesn’t see his lyrics as an opportunity to build a fictional world to make himself a superhero in. Instead of creating the gangsta rapper version of Schwartzenegger in Commando he’s having fun rhyming basketball player Kerry Kittles with the candy Skittles.
Culture Junky is not juvenile but it does have a visible streak of immaturity that makes its seriousness easier to take. The seriousness of songs like Victim and Mind Prison are for some and not for others (although if you think Trans push to not vote for cowards is controversial your voting record sucks) but that’s not the big stumbling block here. Translee is not on the beat. As in control of each song as he is his flow isn’t even on this planet. You either learn to love it or never get past it and that’s your prerogative.
As someone who used to live on lyric websites and enjoy peeling back line after line from new releases Culture Junky is a hazy dream. It’s loaded with jokes, nonsense, real talk, love and one of the year’s best collaborations (Cold featuring Sy Ari Da Kid). Southern rap doesn’t just have great rappers it has layers of them. The famous ones are just the radio/pop exoskeleton; once you get past that you find projects like this and Sy Ari Da Kids Ultrasound 2: The Birth, each mixtape leaves you wondering why everyone doesn’t already love this guy.
Stream or Download Culture Junky below: