Mixtape Review-Biggie Smalls EP by IAMSU & AkaFrank
The first lie of art is that you should always work harder on your weakness than your strength. Sounds good for a teacher to tell a kid but it’s not reasonable for a grown up at all. Why would you spend most of your energy on something that will never be your strength? Why not work hardest at what you do best to reach new levels of doing that well? In a year where every artist is exploring their dark side (Future, Big Sean, etc) Biggie Smalls EP finds IAMSU taking what he does best and turning it way up to levels of fun that touch his last true masterpiece, the 2012 mixtape Kilt.
Some of the fun is how much IAMSU likes working with other MC’s (in this case Northern California’s AkaFrank) and producers (in this case HIMTB production team). Instead of finding some sort of think piece ready despair and inner pain subject matter, we jump in with the first song What The Bay Like and it feels like 78 degrees with palm trees. AkaFrank is cool but not stiff and Su provides one of his most chantable hooks. Out of eight songs this is the projects second best (and the best is last).
IAMSU is at his very best when he has crafted the melody and production just right so that the music has an indestructible digestibility to it. Hi Def of HIMTB produces not only the fantastic What The Bay Like but Backwoods & Back Rubs which is classic mid-tempo ratchet (and mid-tempo ratchet needs Kool John). AkaFrank also gets production credit for Lane Switching which manages to be both haunting and rambunctious. Su gives an autotune soaked gem of a chorus but if you haven’t heard of AkaFrank before this project you may want to hit the search engines. The more listens you get the more capable and strategic his word placement is, the smarter his decisions are.
It might seem unique that both vocal stars produced songs (IAMSU produced the last two: Show You What’s Real and Whatever) but it goes back to the spirit of collaboration. These guys love working together and tweaking everything to the height of its spaciousness.
I know Biggie Smalls EP doesn’t cover any serious topics and its digestibility is its calling card but let me put this a different way. Dr. Dre put out Compton, his first album since 2001 and it sounds glorious it sounds like California feels…but not as much as Biggie Smalls does. Biggie Smalls through production; melody and personality makes you feel the sunshine and the creepy night driving. The best song is a bonus song left over from 2008 called Whatever that shimmers and warbles gloriously and without a malicious bone in its body. Both of these dudes just want dope shoes, attractive sexual partners and a great day to go along with it. That’s the heart of the bay sound. My fingers are still crossed for an IAMSU E-40 collaborative album that would play in my headphones forever.
Stream or Download Biggie Smalls EP below: