Mixtape review-4 Respect by Kevin Gates & Youngboy Never Broke Again
Hip hop people say the same thing to each other about Kevin Gates. We look at each other with a head scratchers facial expression and say “I think he’d be one of the best rappers in the world if he wasn’t…crazy.” Anyone who heard him interviewed on Combat Jack knows how deeply cracked Kevin Gates is but if we’re honest with each other that was the excitement of diving into The Luca Brasi Story in the first place. What we mean when we are talking about Gates as crazy is his oversharing. Gates is the anti-Drake. While Drizzy shares nuggets of his life they always feel as if they rolled off the conveyor belt of a 5 year plan to keep his massive audience enraptured in the persona of his character. Gates will talk about having sex with his cousin on twitter, he’ll drop two bars about eating butt that mess up your whole listening experience. This is the Gates situation it isn’t a problem because it is what makes us want to hear every new Gates verse. What is this madman going to say next? The downside: some things are so messed up you can’t unsay them to an audience and it ruptures the relationship.
Enter NBA Youngboy who last year stamped himself into the center of the hardest worker conversation. This year he put out the long and fantastic Until Death Call My Name in April and now he is back with this four song collaboration with the Michael Madsen of New Orleans rap music. The John Henry-like focus Youngboy has in building his name up as an MC who makes music both deeply personal yet super fun is infectious and as a result Gates hasn’t sounded this focused since Islah. Gates is as good as anyone at catchy hooks, he knows exactly when to let his voice get weird and crackly amidst the melody. Youngboy is the sure thing rapping with intensity on 2 Hands while Gates comes into the chorus laid back in a semi-hush. These two seem to get each other on a deep level. 4 Respect is the fastest EP of the year, the New Orleans pace has always been quicker than most places but they pack songs like TTG with visceral imagery about prison and cigars. Even a two minute song like Head On slams, it could easily just have been another useless trap song about banging my girlfriend (lot of trap songs about banging my girlfriend) but Gates flow is legend and the Youngboy chorus is ill. They get a lot done in a short time.
I think these two should form a rap group and never look back. Youngboy can keep Kevin out of his own head and Kevin can add some odd kinks in the pounding propulsion of Youngboy.
stream or download 4 Respect below:
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Tagged 4 Respect, best mcs in the world, hip hop groups, Islah, Kevin Gates, mixtape review, NBA Youngboy, New Orleans hip hop, The Luca Brasi Story, Until Death Call My Name, Youngboy Never Broke Again
Mixtape Review-The Motivational Speech by Curren$y & Lex Luger
Simple story: 2 critically important figures in the history of hip hop link up and prove to the world why they had the power to change it in the first place. If you roll back through Luger’s best beats none of them are timestamped or outdated. Luger changed how trunks rattled forever he redefined loud for a generation and he’ll never lose that touch. From the opening song of The Motivational Speech (Get to It) the bass comes like a tsunami and the 808’s dance over top of the waves.
In six songs Curren$y manages to add an important paragraph to his legacy. When his brilliant Pilot Talk series was reissued in one set we all had to reassess Spitta’s place in history. Back when he was dropping projects fast and furious the rep was that he was a rap machine who could drop an EP every week. The Motivational Speech highlights a very different aspect of the New Orleans legend (sorry, all time great MC). As underground and independent as he is Curren$y has smash hit songs that stick in your head and form a titanic playlist. From 2010’s Michael Knight to 2012’s Armoire to 2015’s Bottom of The Bottle to 2017’s Pressure or In The Lot. So many songs here are hooky melodic and sing a long worthy but each has the same lyrically unique perspective that draws you in. On Michael Knight Spitta said “I got high’d up so I could autograph the sky.” It set him apart in that he could bring tension hostility and danger to his verses but he also knew how to release it and marvel at the world.
He’s utilized that durability time and time again working with every important producer: Alchemist, Harry Fraud, TM88, Ski Beatz, Cool & Dre, Cookin’ Soul & on & on. He is always his own “so offbeat I’m back onbeat” self but the textures are different. Luger brings out the teeth, paranoia, and deep determination he first committed to history on the most beautiful album about asserting independence (Pilot Talk). I love The Motivational Speech and I would love more collaboration between Luger and Spitta but I love just about every major project he releases. If he wants to make a more polished radio friendly Canal Street Confidential or talk fly @$$ ISH like Legend of Harvard Blue I’m too deep into appreciating to send requests. I love all directions of Spitta.
It is magic to hear an elite MC slay a Luger beat again. Luger proves to be the southern Just Blaze. Let The Motivational Speech teach you how to Just Enjoy This life.
Stream or download The Motivational Speech below:
Mixtape Review-The Owners Manual by Curren$y
It has not been easy to review mixtapes lately. While a lot of people are pleased as punch to see the upcoming on datpiff become available a lot of it sounds the same. Putting together daily playlists of new mixtapes I have more often than ever had to double check who I’m listening to. Which guy is this again?
I know why it’s happened; money tightened up industry-wide and that means a lot of artists are peaking at the smart kids test for help. Lot of people sound like Gucci or Waka or Drake; at some point the knock offs hurt the value of the original. I would love to be more excited for the new Future mixtape but everyone is doing Future. I can’t get away from his sound.
The Owners Manual is a great example of what I love about Curren$y, the richness and difference of his perspective and the uncompromising oddity of his flow and song structure. He makes references other people wouldn’t think about. On his last album 2015’s Canal Street Confidential (fantastic album) he’s flirting with a woman and says in his head “She looks like Lisa Lisa, I’ma take her home.” Where most rappers would have jammed in an Aaliyah reference Spitta has a whole different thought pattern.
The Owners Manual is a perfect follow up to his classic Pilot Talk album. While that collection of music was an articulation of the drive it takes to be a successful independent artist, this mixtape is the guide on how to handle being there. All throughout Spitta shares the everyday struggles of his happily ever after. Rain Stunts is a great example where he swings back and forth from saluting his progress to mumbling about how he didn’t change THEY did. “When you see me in it, know why I did it to show you you can get it if you stay committed. No country for quitters you’ll be eaten my N_” he mourns not being able to pass the weed to friends who passed away, that no money can bring them back. None of it ever feels overreaching or guilty of gooey sentiment, this is Curren$y so it’s just sparklingly conversational.
As blissfully soulful as the Cool & Dre production is, as gorgeously spun into the beat as these samples are…The Owners Manual has a lot of emotional shifting for six songs. Song five (Forecast) is blistering not just in the force of Spitta’s commitment to succeed but the paranoia. He worries “the police is on the internet downloading mixtapes tryin’ to get tips” and threatens ominously “Don’t try nothin’ funny crash test dummy or you’ll see your dealing with more than me.” That song pivots right into the last song (Mallory Knox) which is the most finger snapping Zapp & Roger soulful we get on the project. It’s rich and gratifying and a purely proper end for the project.
Curren$y has a musical intelligence that is hard to even estimate. Consider all the incredible producers he’s worked with: Ski Beatz, Alchemist, Cookin’ Soul, Cool & Dre somehow he always gets their best work. Is it something about him that makes them give up the good beats? Does he just have a great ear and won’t let wack beats in? Either way he’s a mixtape hall of famer and the only rapper who put out a mixtape in 2016 (so far) with a serious Batman reference “Umbrella in the door jammed, back just like Batman (Forecast).” Sometimes I think he’s so consistent that we are missing how brilliant each step is. Either way, he has been unique in an engaging way and so unique that he’s incredibly difficult to copy; tip the hat for that.
Download or Stream The Owners Manual below:
Mini-Mixtape Review-Mardi Gras 2 by Juvenile
I have been on the craziest Juvenile binge lately. I’m talking Solja Rags, Tha G Code, Juve The Great, Reality Check and that was before he dropped his newest mixtape Mardi Gras 2. What has already been said is that Juvenile reinvented where the catchy part of a rap song is, where most songs had the most earwig lines and melodies stuffed into the hook…everything Juve said felt like a hook. That’s why he could do songs like U Understand and HA when others couldn’t (most times constant repetition is boring but Juvenile makes it awesome!). What doesn’t get talked about enough is how great he is as a song constructer and rapper. His guest verses burn songs down and his songs, even his worst songs, are fully formed and ready for repeat listening.
I think most folks will be talking about Uptown D-Boy from Mardi Gras 2 because it teams Juve back up with Birdman but that prospect isn’t that big a deal for me. The collaborations with Mannie Fresh sound much more energized and fun; full of hilarious sex jokes and home depot-wood-erection phrase turns. Those guys should just camp out in the studio and crank out albums again. I Show Love is a fantastic remix and the always dynamic Mike Maven provides the boom on the beat. Mardi Gras 2 is 20 songs long and full of gems, the only clunkers are times when Juve doesn’t get enough time and we are left with second tier guys.
The funny part of my newfound love of Juvenile is that I had the chance to love him the first time. In the Army one of my best friends was a gold grilled Cash Money believer and broke down the skill set of everyone in the crew, I just never bought in(this was at the height of the bling bling era). If you listen to that stuff now…it sounds so damn ahead of its time you might as well have discovered Da Vinci’s plans for a color printer. So go ahead and appreciate him now, your just losing time.
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Tagged Birdman, cash money records, Juve, Juve The Great, Juvenile, Manny Fresh, Mardi Gras 2, Mike Maven, mixtape review, New Orleans hip hop, sex jokes, Solja Rags, Southern Hip Hop, Uptown D-Boy
Mixtape Review-Air Time by Mouse On Tha Track
Some people can’t help but be fun. It’s in their bones. In my generation we all looked at Billy Joe Armstrong from Green Day and snickered. It seemed like he just couldn’t stop making fun bankable pop music no matter what he tried to do. He was called a sell out by the “real” punks but as time moved on to The American Idiot years more of the old heads realized this is just who Billy is.
Air Time isn’t an exercise in emulating the Cash Money spirit. It’s produced like Millionaire Dreamzzz before it as if Mouse On Tha Track exists on that roster in the late nineties making his own music. The opening track is less about ridding yourself of old relationships than about feeling great after a haircut-Liberation(The Cut). Within the first 45 seconds of Haters Don’t Like That he’s already said “You can come up out that mud just like a 4 wheel drive” warned that on the come up you will have to leave friends behind and recommended strongly its best to pay your taxes.
Mouse is a genius. He’s one of the only living descendants of the Juvenile every bar should feel like a chorus methodology. While he is definitely focused on his grind the pestering annoyances of life are poking at him in a way he just can’t ignore. Because the sway of how he says it you might miss lines like “Everywhere I look there’s a crook and a vulture with a m$#%*% problem to offer (Never Slow My Roll).” It seems like the world raises its frustration level to challenge him and in turn he raises the power of his catchy New Orleans bounce to overcome it and get back in the right state of mind.
The best collaborations on this project are hands down the two tracks with Kevin Gates (Don’t Make’em Like Me and Sex Drugs and Money). Both do a brilliant job of taking personal stories of adversity and mixing them into songs. Gates and Mouse are great at giving songs real themes and differentiating them from one another. Far too many artists are stuck creating the same song over and over again. All the songs are about the same thing and run together in a mushy mess. That will never happen to these two they have a real sharp sense of how they are supposed to sound.
You could disregard lyrics and subtext and still enjoy Air Time. Even if you didn’t find fascination in watching one of the most fun and entertaining rappers in the game do a song like Bye Bitch(which bleeds undiscussed anger). You could just listen to this mixtape and bounce with the beats and hooks followed by hooks. I love how genuinely disturbed he sounds on Air Time it feels like watching The Dude lose it throughout the course of The Big Lebowksi. He always centers himself and maybe the beginning, the new haircut, is really the end. He goes through all the BS of bad relationships and people nipping at him for this and that and cuts the locks to start over. So its about feeling fresh again and what your ridding yourself of.
Stream or download Air Time below: