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.
Stream or download below:
Mixtape Review-In Tune We Trust by Lil Wayne
Looking back on what Wayne accomplished is shocking, even if you start at 2007. By the end of 2008 he had sold 2.88 million copies of Carter III and changed how pop rap albums sound forever. He created the pop mixtape market with his Dedication series that started in 2005. Wayne didn’t fall out of touch he savagely experimented and when he was wrong he was so committed to that wrong that it was unbearable (see Rebirth).
The lessons Wayne teaches are all present on In Tune We Trust which is likely a collection of loosies he had hanging around. Loyalty kicks off the mixtape with a brilliant first verse from Gudda Gudda. The key here is the beat by ChefBoy’RT is simple but filled with kinetic energy that drives at Weezy speed. Wayne taught us all what energy is. Whenever you hear Kendrick get into his take-over-the-world flow you know that comes from Weezy. In an interview Isaiah Rashad called Wayne the Michael Jordan of rap! You can debate the comparison but even on the low stakes freestyle Magnolia you marvel at how easy the art is for him.
The best song is Fireworks produced by Mike Will Made It. Jeezy kicks off the track with a great verse that puts Wayne into his perfect zone. While Jeezy has a pinpoint verse about success and drug dealing, Weezy wanders and jokes (“whip it like a big booty b__ like a cup of coffee with a spoon in it”) with the flow of a master and the mentality of a thirty four year old perverted Dennis The Menace. The difference in the two approaches makes the song work stand out.
The four song length of In Tune We Trust sets expectations low but it is a reminder that while you may think of Weezy as last era’s guy he is the same age as Future. He has just been professionally rapping before he could legally buy cigarettes. I am dead sure that when he does get his label situation right his next album will be a monster.
Stream or download In Tune We Trust below:
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Tagged 2017 mixtapes, Carter III, Dedication, future, Gudda Gudda, In Tune We Trust, Jeezy, Lil Wayne, mike will made it, mixtape review, Southern Hip Hop, Weezy
Song of The Year-Just Win by Jeezy produced by Cassius Jay
Thinking about how much Jeezy has changed, without altering his aesthetic universe in the slightest, is baffling. During his breakout Thug Motivation 101/Trap or Die phase he was openly mocking lyricism, loudly declaring his allegiance to the hustle and the hustle alone. At this point in his career, at the Church In These Streets period, his responsibilities are infinitely more diverse.
This new album is nineteen songs long with only two features and those are not rap features (Monica and Janelle Monae). Jeezy is not just comfortable with all the lyrical weight on his shoulders but he absolutely murders some interesting beats. Cassius Jay provides a beat in Just Win that would sit beautifully on Eric B & Rakim’s Don’t Sweat The Technique album; it has that rich soulful echoing boom. Instead of sounding out of place (like Waka Flocka over East Coast beats) elder statesman Jeezy starts dropping pearls of wisdom like “Being rich that s#&* a talent, being broke that’s a profession.” His drive to succeed might be larger than it was in the beginning because Just Win is NOT about him winning, Jeezy knows he already won. It’s about infusing a shot of ambition adrenaline to the community he loves that still hasn’t. So lyrics like “…Want to live the American dream like Uncle Hoss and his wife, work hard feed my kids see what that be like, For now seeing junkies and pipes make a soldier put on his uniform and earn him some stripes.” That’s for someone out there in ferocious need of a cash infusion. Jeezy can’t give you that but he can provide you the soundtrack to go get it.
I loved his last album Seen It All with its grizzled drug dealer PTSD and community awareness, lucky for me, this album just continues what is my favorite leg of an already illustrious career.
Song of The Year-Movin’ Bass by Rick Ross featuring Jay-Z produced by Timbaland
I think my dream collaboration album would be Rick Ross, Jay-Z and Drake. Look at the songs they have all made together over the last few years! The difference in a Jay guest appearance on a Ross, Drake, or Jeezy song vs. the usual is Clark Kent vs. Superman. When people go nuts that someone killed Jay on a track, sometimes the song or the artist just doesn’t do much for Jay. Ross always pushes the perfect buttons to give us the outcome we desire. Even though Jay is just chorus laying and whisper doubling Ross at times he’s integral to the song and sounds excited about it.
The album this song appears on is Hood Billionaire and it’s kind of awesome. The bass is sensational all the way through and this feels like mixtape Ross; paranoid and sneering looking out of the window with weapon in hand. Jay snarls the chorus out like its 1997 and he’s prepared to pounce. Ross is the reason. That overwhelming desire to succeed that causes you to churn out music on an endless loop, to tour and do videos until you pass out of exhaustion is something he sees himself in.
These two go together so well this might not be your favorite Ross/Jigga collab of 2014. Early this year Ross dropped Mastermind with Devil is a Lie as a collaborative centerpiece between the two. That song is amazing as well and clearly the best song on the project. The difference this time is 1. The beat is better 2. The album is better 3. The album seems to grow around this song as its middle rather than fall into its shadow.
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Tagged bass, best songs 2014, Drake, Hood Billionaire, Jay-Z, Jeezy, Mastermind, Movin Bass, rap collaborations, Rick Ross, song of the year, The Devil is A Lie, Timbaland
Song Review-O Lord by Boosie Bad Azz
When Boosie got out of jail we knew that new music was destined to hit but I’m not sure anyone anticipated the raw nerve emotion of Life After Deathrow. Its way more bravely naked than I expected. This is a 2pacish mental space where the force of will exercised on this set of songs is enough to make a airtight case for Boosie’s importance in the world of music.
On the third track, Streets of Fire, Boosie starts the song by saying “No one thought I’d make it,” and the mixtape builds from that thought; A recently released prisoner stewing in the bitterness and betrayal of people who forgot about him and his accomplishments. It’s about getting out and shouting at all those who disappointed you until your voice is hoarse; holding your family while not holding back tears.
O Lord is the last track and most of the way past the vengeful bitterness that drives the project. The exasperation, fear, sadness and terror of being locked away perfectly expresses itself through this gospel ratchet danceable yet soulful chant rap. Not many artists can make songs like O Lord or mixtapes as forcefully important as Life After Deathrow. The song and project are haunted at times by a tragedy honesty and triumph that’s instantly a special part of 2014. It really doesn’t matter whether you like Boosie or not, once you hear his new stuff you’ll know it’s a big deal. He has a bit of the thug motivation magic Jeezy is famous for but does more to unabashedly express the pain of street life and make you dance to it.