Tag Archives: Cardo

Mixtape review-41-P by Payroll Giovanni

Mixtape review-41-P by Payroll Giovanni

by Dan-O

Payroll Giovanni is my kind of MC. Mentally he is tougher than shark skin with a flow that can speedbag the beat to impressive levels. The other thing to love about the thirty year old rapper from Detroit is that he’s always working and its good smart work.  His new mixtape (41-P) is the second release of the year following Big Bossin Vol. 2 with master producer Cardo. This might sound crazy but this self-produced mixtape….sounds better.

While Cardo is one of my favorite rap producers ever he sets up landscapes that are vibey enough to get lost in. To say Payroll has an urgent flow would be a vast understatement.  He spits out these words as if he’s mad at the microphone and he needs production that pushes that rather than counters it. The great part is he knows, these beats are boldly propulsive enough to tell that story.

All you have to do is wait twenty seconds into the first track (41-P the title track) as he shifts into highway speed while the bass pounds. Not many rappers can move at this speed anymore, fast enough to be impressive but focused enough to be able to hear every syllable.  The next track is Invisible  which is beyond frustrated it is angry, dressing down obstacles the way a boss with a lot of balls in the air does.  Another big reason why I identify with Payroll is that like a productive boss he keeps an emotional distance that is a combination of painful personal losses creating defense and a self-help guru-like focus on winning as a hustler.

The chorus on Excuses is “Bosses make money and workers make excuses.” He expands on it throughout the song “I had to figure out the quickest route, I had to jump in the game get in & out I wasn’t in the house. I’m in the field not to kill but to make a deal but I’m clutching steel to protect what I’m tryin’ to build.” He’s all game face moving packs and reinvesting in his circle but he is not unaffected by the wear and tear. When he makes clear on Nothing Nothing that the women clutching at him on his way up are nothing….they aren’t nothing or the song wouldn’t have to be made.

Hypnotized is my favorite song because it is the closest to watching the boss crack. You can read Payroll as a sexist if you want for the wildly hostile manner in which he speaks about women throughout 41-P. I think he provides a valuable window into a damaged social environment; one where the most attractive girl in the room spots you not because of your attractiveness but because she is staring at your rolex and “can smell money on you”. You can’t blame her, as Americans we all want to get as close to wealth as we can. The hustle isn’t just real for the narrator. Being the subject of that faux-affection must be the most validating & insulting experience and it has to warp the man behind the gameface. In his verse Payroll wrestles over what sounds like All Eyez On Me era 2pac production pulled through modern trap sensibilities. “What’s a golddigger gonna do with me when I’ve been rocking platinum since I was 13. Girl I’m too much for you you ain’t too much for me. ” She can’t possibly sympathize with who he is or come at him as an equal in the relationship (not in his eyes).  In Interview he opens the door further by addressing direct questions in his song Interview. He talks Jeezy, indictments, beef, label changes & lays everything out quite frankly.   The ingredients are present in 41-P for a long career with better beats and music that can be even more meaningful. Boss life presents challenges I can’t wait to see him face.

P.S. I don’t want to leave the lingering impression that Payroll Giovanni is somehow Beast from Beauty and the Beast with all these romantic walls up waiting for the right one (see: Hypnotize explanation) . He seems to have proposed marriage this April to a woman the Detroit Metro Times describe as “Detroit hair mogul Kendra Parker.” I don’t know what being a hair mogul entails but it’s definitely her hustle and kudos to both of them for winning together.

Stream or download below:




#Bandcampgold-G-Worthy(G-Perico & Jay Worthy) produced by Cardo

#Bandcampgold-G-Worthy (G-Perico & Jay Worthy) produced by Cardo

by Dan-O

Can I tell you what separates Cardo from his peers at the very top of hip hop production? The Neptunes make anyone sound cool from Kelis to Timberlake to Pusha and Malice to Britney Spears. Not everyone sounds cool on a Cardo beat. Cardo beats are the pure distillation of hearing Snoop and Dre for the first time, liquid metal cool forming and reforming, with the right host on the mic it sounds invincible. This is why when people don’t know who Cardo is I simply say “He built Wiz Khalifa” without the luxuriously unflappable warm sonic world of Cardo to color his incredible personality Wiz would have been another weirdo in a hip hop world full of them. If you don’t have the right personality to sail on these beats you’ll be caught faking the funk but if you match up it takes you to another level.

If you look at the cover of G-Worthy it looks like it could have come out in 1992. Jay Worthy from Compton and G Perico from South Central reassure us that while Rap destroys what it loves to be and rebuilds to the opposite direction every five years…West Coast Gangsta Rap doesn’t.

The album consists of seven songs that feel effortlessly connected without any visible seams. What has changed is the ability for a Blood like Jay Worthy to rap about B hats and his Brazy life right before G Perico raps about violence from a Crip perspective (Getting High). The music is the glue. Jay Worthy is a solid dude who recently released a full length project with Alchemist so he is used to spitting over genius production. Jay Worthy is a game machine talking pimping or gang life or just generally flossing all over the listener. On the single Never Miss he authoritatively asserts “Take a look at yourself, we getting money On the route with these dames, a little lucky.”

Perico is a star his voice his cadence along with the personal specificity of imagery really draw him to the forefront at all time. The best example is his verse on Ain’t Trippin which starts “Middle finger to e’rybody that’s how I do it. Got the glock in the beamer case a n__ want to act stupid.” He talks about how the police are monitoring everyone and that’s not new, that he can’t tell the visual difference between his enemies and friends cops and homies. By the end of the verse you can feel the waves washing over, the uncertainty hostility and powerlessness of this criminalized system. It’s all done economically in a short verse. He loads up and does it again with the subject of women on the beginning of the next track (Scandalous). I heard all of Perico’s work before and liked it but it is Cardo’s production that made his lyrics vivid enough for me to figure out the allure. I think Perico is the best gangsta rapper since YG and G-Worthy could easily become a group without comparison. Not only do they represent a timeless standard few would dream of comparing against but their singles, while fabulous, are just as good as the rest of their output. They shine at a slow bops pace that they could keep up without a trickle of sweat for ten years. I hope they make more money than they ever hoped as G-Worthy.

Stream or buy G-Worthy below:




by Dan-O

Usually someone dominates the mixtape scene; this goes all the way back to 50 Cent clearing the landscape and being the name on everyone’s lips. 2014 wasn’t the year for that. Most artists figured out that a tipping point exists where beyond a certain amount of content you sacrifice the quality of what you put out. If you strike once and strike well its better than dropping three mixtapes of original content where one is great and the others are ok. A bad project makes the blogosphere forget the good one.

I would never have guessed it but Shy Glizzy managed to do both. He released two top ten quality mixtapes within the calendar year loaded with content and it’s all great. The most innovative part of 2014 Glizzy is how staunchly he refused to reinvent the wheel. You’ll find the production list full of names you know: Cardo, Young Chop, and Zaytoven. The trap/drill sensibilities are absolutely the basis of the sound. While trap and drill ,for the most part, sound tired Glizzy sounds through the roof excited; that excitement translates to the effort it takes to get it right.

Young Jefe dropped early in the year and I lived on it. When everything was slow I could count on the pristinely sung chorus on Ungrateful, the bizarre sense of fulfillment in Coca Loca. The reviews on Glizzy say his music is fun because of the horrifying gangsta content contrasted against his strange high squeak cartoon character voice. I have a very different hypothesis: no one cares about their hooks as much and no one commits to bragging as hard.

Young Jefe is marked by hits like Awwsome, I’m on Fire, I’m A Star, and Living It Up where he flaunts invincibility. All the best moments are Glizzy stewing in his own importance without an ounce of doubt(this is why he has a deep history of rapper beefs he just doesn’t care). He emerges from the bounce of Young Jefe like Drago at the end of his fight with Apollo Creed (Rocky 4 is the best one. Don’t mess with me on this).

The MVP moment happened when the DJ Drama assisted Law 3 dropped and it didn’t just live up to Young Jefe but surpass it. Law 3 is so good it doesn’t get weighed down by the guest verses thrown on by the Glizzy goon army (3 Glizzy, 30 Glizzy, Goo Glizzy) and the beats while still within the traposphere are weird. Money featuring Young Dolph (being Young Dolph) is seductive rippling bass and a barely there violin. Zaytoven is behind it and 2 other tracks (Celebration and Everything Golden); he’s been experimenting this year and tweaking his sound in places. This only happens with artists Zaytoven is confident can handle something odd like OG Maco or Glizzy.

Glizzy can make straightforward stuntin’ tracks stunning; What To Do isn’t daring, just the baddest man in town mantra taken to its most catchy. Everything Golden is another decidedly out of sync but in its own sync Zaytoven track, piano driven this time, where Glizzy seems oddly calm as he explains how easy women are to maneuver and sounds as detached and distant as anyone can while telling you they own golden shoes.

The track on Law 3 that fully articulates how clever Glizzy is comes fourth in the tracklist. Funeral is completely and specifically surreal. He unveils what his funeral will look like but gives one detail at a time utilizing clearly contrasting imagery to create a surreal picture Luis Bunuel would be proud of. The first rapped line is “I want all shooters at my funeral, only real N’s at my funeral!” Directly after that he tells you ten thousand women will be at his funeral and celebrities (wait you said all shooters, are these celebrity shooters?). He warns you that you could get robbed there and all the while that beat is a looped soul sample church clap/hum over a heavy piano. Do you think this is somehow unintentionally odd? Some sort of happy accident that sees Glizzy follow the image of leaving his wheel chair bound uncle behind after death with a lament that he didn’t bang more chicks. This is a specifically jarring, in your face, deconstruction of the “When I’m Gone” rap song taken to its wildest outer reaches.

On Thank You Glizzy says Birdman has been in contact with him about joining his Rich Gang collective. That would be fantastic. Anything that puts Glizzy near Young Thug or Rich Homie Quan would be great. All of those artists have shared a wildly successful year where they refused to bunt when they had their turn up to bat. They turned every fastball they got into a homerun that sailed over the wall. All everyone else could do was shake their head. Hell, when Glizzy talks about haters and how he has lots he isn’t lying. When 2013 ended I hated his sound; didn’t understand why he got such attention, now I’m scouring datpiff for old Glizzy to catch up on. That’s the difference an MVP year has. Next year he’ll have a lot of options.

Stream or download Young Jefe below:

Stream or download Law 3 below:

Song of The Year-Seen It All by Jeezy featuring Jay-z produced by Cardo

Song of The Year-Seen It All by Jeezy featuring Jay-Z produced by Cardo

by Cardo

The Snowman’s new album Seen It All: The Autobiography is definitely a disjointed listen. A lot of that is because of how unhinged and emotional it is. Consider how similar Jay and Jeezy’s position is. Jeezy is looking out on a landscape of successful trap rappers created directly in his image. Would the rap universe embrace a Young Thug without Jeezy to open the door? No. At the same time critical favor has turned away from Jeezy to some of those same artists that carry his dna. Jay is going through the same thing with Kanye.

So two of the games most influential artists come together on a track to shout their historical significance. It’s odd that they need too but that’s rap for you. I understand not liking this era Jeezy. All he knows how to do is make action movie albums with crazy forward momentum so when Jeezy starts loading his verses with indignant stories of betrayal (Freddie Gibbs is definitely getting to him) he can’t help but mix them with jokes about cocaine sandwiches.  The outcome is something clearly not correctly done but also superbly unique.

The real winner on this track is Cardo. So far he’s my favorite producer of 2014. He was never just Wiz Khalifa’s secret weapon, working with everyone everywhere (great work with Gerald Walker), and his development has been amazing to watch. His signature DJ Quik-ian west coast feel has evolved into something nearly indescribably dope. This song feels like 2014 in a nutshell because it has established artists finding their footing and a lesser known one coming into his own as a top top dog in the industry. This kind of shifting can be naturally transitional or destructive. I’m watching either way.

Six Degrees of Drake

Six Degrees of Drake

by Dan-O

The widespread success of Drake has caused the spread of a new sound. Does anyone remember when Ghostface Killah started doing sing heavy hooks and it was controversial? People were mad and questioning how hardcore his music was…now being able to sing or fake sing the chorus (sometimes several on one song) is mandatory. Thank Drizzy (and Kid Cudi) for that. The spread of this new sound has created a lane for like minded artists and some of them have put out some pretty great B-movie level mixtapes.

Gerald Walker-Yesterday You Said Tomorrow

I will be honest I used to listen to Gerald Walker and just laugh. He sounded just like Drake and stayed sing rapping about how dumb people were for thinking he sounded like Drake, over Drake beats. I downloaded every tape and actually looked forward to new projects just to be able to chuckle over the situation.

While I was chuckling Gerald Walker was making leaps and bounds. It doesn’t hurt that he can get a Cardo beat any time he wants (5 out of 11 on this project) or that he can switch into singing quite naturally. This is the most refined project in the history of Gerald Walker. He now has a cool detached bop to his flow that really suits him and the years in the game to justifiably teaching lessons on perseverance and patience on the hypnotically soulful Cant Have It All At Once “you don’t realize your worth nobody gotta give you sh__ if you want it go out and work. See I know N’s who got deals who was blessed to take the wheel and drive to they own success but they didn’t…shout out to Pill.”

All the funny things I looked for: the off-putting confessions, baffling missteps, and direct Drake lifts are gone. In place is a mixtape that glistens with professional polish from the balanced new school groove production feel to the perfect vocal mixing. I’ve listened to the song Nerves a thousand times and hummed it to myself in the supermarket. I used to suck my teeth when I saw Gerald Walker featuring on a track, shake my head when he sung his own name like it was the two most beautiful words he could think of. Now I’m singing along, so he wins.

Download or stream Yesterday You Said Tomorrow below:

Kirko Bangz-Progression IV

Kirko Bangz is NOT someone ripping off Drake. If he raps over every Drake beat for the rest of his career that’s something Drizzy OWES HIM. Kirko is actually from Houston. Remember Houston? That place Drake lifted his sound from.

Kirko turns the autotune most of the way up and belts out some straight up somebody-rockin-knockin-the-boots type music. They Don’t Know is perfect Houston 2014 booty music and the best part of Progression 4 is that Kirko is not nearly as emotionally cagey as Drizzy. Drizzy is half emotional half public relations expert for his emotions so every admission feels heavily vetted, Kirko just drops real live weirdness. Don’t Matter To Me is one of my favorite songs of 2014 so far. It starts like this “I heard about you baby but I ain’t worried bout you baby. I know some N’s had you fore I got you but it’s my time I got you baby. I head about the sh__ you did with Slim Thug. I heard Propain could have hit you at the club and I heard Doughbeezy had you on the southeast but let me tell you bout me. Girl I wouldn’t care if you was a prostitute and you hit up every rapper that I ever knew.” Only Kirko would make a catchy sexy jam about how many nasty things you can have done and still love him. Or make a song about how much he wants to bang Rihanna where he talks about her monkey in the first line (Love Rihanna). At one point in this mixtape he says he gets so much sex from lovely ladies he doesn’t have to do his chores. I don’t even understand that but I love it. Sometimes Kirko feels better than Drake not just cause he’s authentically Houston and brings B.A. Houston guests (Propain, Killa Kyleon) but because his music feels like what Drake would do if he lost his mind when he was drunk. Tell me you wouldn’t listen to that?

Stream or download Progression IV below:

Mixtape Review-King Chip-44108

Mixtape Review-King Chip-44108

by Dan-O

Who is King Chip? He’s the sound coming through the weed smoke in fleets of Fleetwoods, the head nodding stimuli in clusters of Caddy’s all throughout the Midwest. Before his new mixtape 44108 came out I felt like it was going to be important. I was nervous.

Chip is not one of those “flood the market” dudes. He releases long conscientiously assembled mixtapes and he’s been getting better with each one. This strategy requires a lot of patience and patience necessitates forethought which always pays off.

Named after the zip code for his hometown Cleveland, Ohio 44108 is filled with a diverse array of shocking moments. A couple tougher than beef jerky Lex Luger tracks that Chip chews through (Stand Up King and Its Real w/ Fat Trel), smash hits that could dominate the radio (Another You w/ Tony Williams and Kanye West or Vortex w/ Kid Cudi and Pusha T) and shocking hardcore. A N Shot Me feels like early Ice T hardcore story-song, Police in The Trunk has Chip wrapping a police officer up in a blanket and throwing him in the trunk. 44108 has tough music in abundance; sometimes the tracks are stylized mayhem like Thornhill Dr. but the most shocking moments are genuine parts of Chip confessional. Whenever a song begins “My N’s own father shot him in the stomach like four times, he took a step back looked his pops in the eyes and he survived (B*%^ A$$ World),” the artist has your total attention. Chip’s pen is mightier than it has ever been.

The biggest development in Chip is that 44108 is chock full of quotable verse that not only feel necessary but essential. I’m not talking about profound digressions about the world I’m talking about laugh out loud stuff like “I told her to save my name as Shaft, Long in her damn phone,” from Another You or “please excuse my bluntness, oh you don’t smoke…well scuse my blunt B#$%” from Stand Up King. He’s always had the ability to create a vibe in his music that carries it (I’ve always associated this with his close connection to Kid Cudi) and still does on tracks that meander at a gorgeous pace like Actavis but this time he’s rapping on a different level. I’m talking about song of the year candidate If I Die Today where he spits alongside MJG and Scarface(MJG says when he dies bury him in the liquor store)…and holds his own. 44108 see’s King Chip rap alongside Pusha T, Layzie Bone, Fat Trel, Freddie Gibbs, GLC, Travi$ Scott and never once get outshined.

That’s not his greatest accomplishment. He gets great features and great production and really always has. BLK On BLK is one of the best Cardo beats I’ve heard in two years and its suitably bookended with beats from top producers but Chip owns them. He blasts through ever verse, every hook like this is his shot. 44108 proves that King Chip doesn’t really need any gimmicks or proper timing to climb the ladder. He’s climbing it regardless.

stream or download 44108 below:


Mixtape Review-Stalley-Honest Cowboy

Mixtape Review-Stalley-Honest Cowboy

by Dan-O

Picture rap music as a classroom containing all the personalities we are familiar with. The pretty boy who writes poetry in his free time, the goon who picks a fight every few days just to feel healthy, the smart kid everyone copies off of, the trashy chick the guys pretend not to like…and that dude in the back who barely talks to anyone. He keeps his head in his notebook and draws cars, lightning bolts, anything to pass the time. That dude is Stalley.

If you listen to his new mixtape Honest Cowboy you can hear how separated he feels from everyone else. Someone pointed out to Stalley on twitter that all his dreams of wealth end up with him alone in a peaceful location. He laughed but the point is not just apt, it’s central to Honest Cowboy. As he says “Made money from being honest and these fake N’s hate it, that a real N made it, offa no favors now I’m in a farmhouse far out with no neighbors,” on the triumphant Samson (which reunites Stalley with his soul mate producer Rashad) you can’t help but be struck by how unique the image is. What rapper brags about being on a farmhouse or having no neighbors? How many times have you heard obscene nonsense brags from rappers to the effect of NOW CALIGULA IS MY NEIGHBOR! Stalley wants a life outside of rap and to be left alone; in a lot of ways this is what characterizes his relationship with the critics and fans. Everyone knows he doesn’t fit and even more important than that everyone knows he doesn’t want to fit.

As well as his tribute to Big Moe and the Houston sound on Swangin’ goes he’s not Big Krit. It wouldn’t make sense for Stalley to place himself as a UGK descendent because his Blue Collar Gang mentality doesn’t allow him to fully floss on tracks. Speaking of Swangin’ it features an engaging verse from Scarface. On a track designed as Stalley’s tribute to Houston hip hop (produced by the Block Beataz) Scarface laces a pointed perspective on the early days and how things have changed, how the sound has spread.

As an author Stalley is smart enough to go “conscious” and elements of militancy pop up, as on Long Way Down (also on Raise Your Weapons) “Black mask black gloves a hood terrorist intelligent psychopaths the worlds scared of us, the skin of a million slaves…” but they are interspersed. Stalley doesn’t want to be the kid the teacher always looks for to give the answers to the class. I want to be clear I like this mixtape a great deal, it’s riding music with a ton of personal post script. Every beat is gorgeous, especially the amazing Cardo and Dj Quik piano construction Spaceships and Woodgrain, Stalley is in an elite class of beat picking. Whether it’s Block Beataz, Rashad, Black Diamond, or Soundtrakk he’ll make sure it rattles your trunk. I haven’t heard a bad beat on a Stalley project and Honest Cowboy won’t give you one.

So the question for him is always, where is his head at? This is his most honest record. The moment when he says “I came for the money and not for the fame,” on Feel The Bass is a memo to all of us. Not long after that rhyme he’s riding alone in his vehicle inviting his audience to follow him home but watch from a distance. Anyone who tells you he doesn’t fit on Maybach as an artist is totally missing the point. He’s one of the most remarkable X-factors in rap, isn’t it possible that the more he doesn’t fit…the better he will get?

Stream or Download Honest Cowboy below: