Mixtape review-41-P by Payroll Giovanni
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.
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Song of The Year-Ain’t It Funny by Danny Brown produced by Paul White
Atrocity Exhibition is a special album. I accidentally loaded it in my mp3 player twice and I have not corrected that. Whenever I listen I never skip songs. I listen to every one twice & it hasn’t been a problem. As well respected as it is critically it has the feeling of one of those albums that will appreciate over time to the point that it becomes historically significant. This era is known for drug addled depression but very few are contrasting that content with such exciting music. Very few rappers cut to the very heart of the subject the way Danny Brown does.
Ain’t It Funny is a perfect example; full of super frightening drug talk like “Nosebleed on red carpets but it just blend in, snapping pictures feeling my chest being sunk in, live a fast life seen many die slow. Unhappy when they left, so I try to seize the moment.” Danny Brown doesn’t offer a resolution merely the celebration of what little time he has. This album is a celebration of entropy produced by Paul White who did ten of the fifteen songs overall. White (A British producer who has worked w/ Open Mike Eagle, Charlie XCX and more) throws strange sounds in the mix (Is that a tuba?) and pushes the tempo. The weirder and more jagged the sounds the more comfortable our narrator becomes. As memorable as the posse track with Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, and Earl Sweatshirt (Really Doe) is I can’t get enough of all the short stabbing solo songs. Dance In The Water, Lost, Goldust and Ain’t It Funny (best of them all) none of these songs make it to the three minute mark. In fact, only Really Doe has the conventional feel of a rap song; with guests and a typical five minute length.
Atrocity Exhibition & Ain’t It Funny ,in particular, don’t feel like the start of a new era but the very best of this one. An album Kid Cudi must be playing on repeat.
Mixtape Review-Sell Sole by Dej Loaf
I became completely infatuated with the Dej Loaf mixtape Sell Sole on track 7. It was great before that but the shorthand I had been using in my head about Dej Loaf based on her snarling single Try Me was “This is a little female 50 cent; hardcore material with an incredible sense of melody.” Track 7 is called Me U and Hennessy it’s only one minute and forty six seconds long and begins with the soft cooing plea “Can we stay home tonight?” What follows is such a soft illustration of pure inebriated passion Aaliyah would be ear to ear smiling. It’s not just a plea for sex. Me U & Hennessy is a warm and genuine call to celebrate romantic union. It’s followed by I Got It where she opens up even further “I don’t know much about that bible never felt like I needed it. I tell my mama that I got her when I make it we even. For all the years she took care of me and my brothers, believe it. I miss my grandma why did she have to leave me?” Not too long after that she’s back in startling threat mode “Anybody want war it ain’t s#$% to get it crackin’ cause N where I’m from they use alley’s for the caskets.”
She speaks violence and then says she’s not trying to promote it. Tells you to shut up open your mouth and eat her out then dedicates the next song to a tender loving moment (see Easy Love). These aren’t contradictions but dimensions of a very personal journey. No matter how many tracks start out with the intention to lick shots at enemies (see Birdcall) they can’t help but shout out the dead remember the locked away and thank those who’ve helped along the way. It’s the personality of Sell Sole that makes it so special.
Seven of the thirteen tracks are handled by DDS who gets the balance between short tempered thuggish paranoia and heartfelt longing. The sonic universe is full of the stark space drill beats give you but with a lick or two of soulful warmth. The soft plink on Grinding comes together perfectly with Loaf’s gently sung chorus.
The mixtape has a unique ability to give an artist a direct connection with his or her audience. No way could Def Loaf provide a major label debut like this. The songs would end up being more like the brazen radio friendly Blood(featuring Birdman and Young Thug) than the sincere meditative Never. In one mixtape I’ve got a direct connection to Def Loaf. Not only do I know what kind of music she wants to make and what her sound is but she’s an artist to root for. I want her to succeed so she can pay her mother back for her patience. Why would I root for Big Sean to make more awkward jokes through his thin mustache? Rap is more than technique and wordplay or hits. It’s having a story everyone wants to hear and Sell Sole is a ten out of ten in that category.
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Tagged 50 cent, Aaliyah, Birdman, DDS, Dej Loaf, Detroit Hip Hop, Loaf, Mixtape, mixtape review, Sell Sole, Try Me, Young Thug