Mixtape Review-Savage Holidays by Boosie Badazz
Savage Holidays is the greatest Christmas rap album of all time. The ability of Boosie to be able to take his superpower (turning painful stories/imagery into stadium sized anthems) and apply it to the holiday season is nothing short of exhilarating. It is not just his pain either. At the end of the title track he directly inhabits the perspective of his Chicago audience and wears their distress “he was finally F*&$in’ shinin’ man that N_ he was bossin’ last year he was rappin’ this year he in a coffin.” The whole project is dedicated to the frustration and terror of being alive in 2019. It is as if Boosie spends his career dissatisfied that the rap world pretends everything is going so well when they know the truth is harrowing.
Death stomps through Savage Holidays leaving deep footprints. Santa Claus of The Ghetto builds up the dope boy as someone who gives back to the community, shines so the poor kids can dream to be as wealthy but the chorus begs for him to stay free as long as possible. Prison or death can take the dope boy away in the wrong swirl of a moment and Boosie makes sure his chorus is pleading, the song feels like it is from a ghetto kids perspective not his. It’s high level writing.
On Christmas List YFN Lucci talks about robbing for PJ Masks, Rich Homie Quan talks about getting drugs in his stocking but the first line Boosie says in his verse is “I just want to be with my family for Christmas.” He spits it as hard as any threat he’s ever hurled; levels it at the loneliness he explores without applying branding tactics to humblebrag package it.
Boosie is not all soul bearing, his sexual appetite is pervasive throughout his work and he certainly pushes forward with that on Savage Holidays. Pussy Got Me Like is dick-on-ya-buttcheeks straightforward and leads into Cold Outside which is significantly less creepy than Baby It’s Cold Outside. He’s clear within the song that he wants to smoke up, laugh, hang out and have lots of sex which seems like a more balanced relationship than the original version. While some will say ending the song with a call for his female audience to twerk is less distinguished than the original I think it is distinctly more honest.
If you are concerned about offensive things than yes, temper your expectations. Boosie is as full of offensive thoughts as he is meaningful introspection and empathy. This project has a song called The Bitch Who Stole Christmas about the time honored seduction as robbery one-two punch. He is livid and shouts the details as if it happened minutes ago and the beat is haunting. My favorite song is This Christmas where his anger tires and over a scratchy guitar he mumbles about letting his people down, going to prison. He uses his voice as an instrument extending words and singing in a way that tortures the melody. The chorus is “This Christmas won’t be like the others. Bells will still be ringin’ children still be singin’ but things won’t be the same at all. I done let my people down, prison walls they closin’ in. Try my best to shed no tears but they fall when holidays are here. This Christmas…” Can you imagine how many people are spending Christmas with these feelings (especially in a country that adores locking people up)? With this pain? Now imagine having Boosie give you and your family this soundtrack. What kind of fan loyalty would you have at that point? That is how Boosie can remain so foundationally strong while never popping up in the trivial hip hop trends. He works from a base that needs him more than they need anyone else.
Stream or download Savage Holidays below:
Mixtape Review-The Kanan Tape by 50 Cent
One song on 50 Cent’s new Kanan Tape (free release mixtape) flawlessly represents the conundrum of 50. The song is called Body Bags and it starts with 50 telling a story about gambling one night, when a gunman barges in, shouting for everyone to go face down on the floor so he can rob them. 50 Cent looks at the gunman and says “N___ I got on white linen?!” That story is so specifically and charmingly him that it’s magic. The humor in a crappy situation, the overwhelming confidence, it all makes him special. Problem with all this is that the song following the interlude is blandly unspecified 50. Alchemist gives him a pure minimalist gem that sounds like 99 Mobb Deep and 50 gives us the song Body Bags which sounds like it could have been from any era of his career. If I said the phrase “typical 50 Cent song” you would hear Body Bags in your head.
This isn’t to say that he refuses to move out of his comfort zone. The Production list provides an interesting grouping of producers (seven songs seven different names). Whenever he moves into weird territory the results are interesting. It is fun to watch 50 wrap himself around a lush Sonny Digital beat on I’m The Man and the results are definitely a success. 50 has an incredibly high hip hop IQ so his southern songs are all performed at an extremely high level. Nigga Nigga featuring Lil Boosie and Young Buck is great not just because all Boosie verses have been show stoppers since he got out of prison, but because Young Buck always seems to show up and deliver when he lines up next to a dope artist. Young Buck by himself can go either way. The energy 50 brings to the track is matched by Boosie and the two snarl wonderfully together.
London on Da Track has the best song on the project Too Rich for the Bitch where he serves up a Young Thug style off kilter piano track to 50 who luxuriates in it, layering his braggadocio into a fascinating anti-love soundscape. This modern rap world of singing in the middle of the song and making your verses sound like hooks is something 50 can do in his sleep.
The most boring parts of The Kanan Tape sound like his boring last album Animal Ambition. 50 is convinced that if he gives us what we say we want from him we will be happy. That is why he gives us songs like Burner On Me with mailed in clothing brand brags and standard gun talk, it’s what we expect. The problem is that as an audience we only want sixty five percent of what we say we want; that thirty five percent that remains needs to be growth of some kind. Lyrically he won’t bring us closer to his life (he says he tried that on Before I Self Destruct and it didn’t work) so that leaves only so many other sonic ingredients that can change. I’m not writing this as some kind of smug internet tough…I’m a 50 Cent fan. The only Mainer who was bumping 50 Cent mixtapes before Eminem signed him and I’m saying you need to surprise me just a little. The Kanan tape is close but it’s not there.
stream or download The Kanan Tape below:
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Tagged 50 cent, Alchemist, Animal Ambition, Before I Self Destruct, Boosie Badazz, Lil Boosie, London on Da Track, mixtape review, Mobb Deep, Sonny Digital, Spinrilla, The Kanan Tape, Young Buck, Young Thug
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.