Mixtape Monthly #11
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 23:02
Curren$y – New Jet City
New Jet City is sort of like those character development episodes of a lot of sitcoms; those episodes where a character has a potentially life-changing event (see: the episode of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air where Will meets his long-absent father). These could be impactful moments, but the viewer already knows the character’s demeanor isn’t really going to change, as it may throw off the show’s comedic scenario.
Here, Curren$y feels like he’s at the cusp of changing his signature hazed-out demeanor, but on some tracks, he reverts back to it and sounds comfortable, which make for some of the mixtape’s best moments.
New Jet Citytrips up when Curren$y tries to place himself in these landscapes that vary from Southern bounce (“B***h Get Up” with Juvenile and “Choosin” featuring Wiz Khalifa and Rick Ross) to lush backdrops (“Three 60” featuring Juicy J). It’s not that the varying production makes the album feel disconnected – the beats are actually consistently solid.
The problem is how disconnected Curren$y himself sounds on such beats, which is strange to note because of how he generally sounds apathetic in his raps. However, there’s usually charisma behind that apathetic front. That charm – which keeps his cult following coming back for his frequent releases – isn’t present to the same degree here.
The below average guest verses play a huge part of that dilemma. It’s weird because a lot of the featured rappers could’ve used the moment to re-establish their names. Rick Ross recent work includes a weak mixtape and a mediocre single, yet he decides to throw a forgettable verse on “Choosin.”
And Jadakiss’ “You ain’t got enough bars, bad service” line in “Clear?” Weak.
“Bandz a Make Her Dance” is still pretty relevant, but it’s no excuse for Juicy J to spit a completely unflattering verse powered by his love of fellatio.
There are great Curren$y moments like “New Jet City,” which is essentially a manifesto, and the cloud nine feel of “Mary.” But New Jet City doesn’t have the focus that projects such as Covert Coup and Pilot Talk had.
While mixtape closer “New Program” features a pretty decent verse from Young Roddy, one can’t help but imagine how much better the track would’ve sounded if Curren$y had the anthemic beat to himself. He’s supposed the main attraction after all.
Casey Veggies – Life Changes
It’s usually easy to tell whether a mixtape or an album is supposed to be a statement. This isn’t the case for Life Changes.
That’s pretty concerning considering how Casey Veggies’ latest release is pretty devoid of guest verses, which pretty much makes him the driving force of it. However, he isn’t much of a force in Life Changes. Casey Veggies basically comes off as a copy of what a good rapper is supposed to be.
His lone moment of brilliance comes early in “My Vision.” It could be the liquid smooth production by The Futuristiks/1500 or Nothing, but this is the one moment Casey Veggies truly finds his center. The hook is average, but the first two verses have a triumphant swagger that’s addicting.
“We made it man, we did it,” Veggies raps with invigoration. “Me and all my n****s don’t worry bout them critics/They don’t know my digits/They don’t see how we livin.”
The energy just leaves the room from there. He delves into A$AP Rocky-esque indulgence in “Life$tyle” and dabbles in romanticism in “I Love Me Some You.” He barely sounds believable throughout. In the end, Life Changes is just a forgettable listen.
In “Young Winners” – another one of Life Changes standouts – Veggies asks the listener, “What’s your story?” They still don’t know his.
J. Cole – Truly Yours
J. Cole’s come up as a rapper has defied a lot of odds. He’s popular within the hip-hop community but treads the line between hit-maker and underground conscious rapper. However, he still hasn’t hit mainstream approval like rappers Common and the rapper formerly known as Lupe Fiasco.
J. Cole’s sporadic single releases were his only follow-ups to his debut, Cole World: The Sideline Story, until the announcement of his sophomore album Born Sinner. After that, J. Cole has dropped his first lead single, “Power Trip,” and his latest EP, Truly Yours.
The five-track compilation features notable samples, heavy bass and J. Cole’s signature, personal story telling rhymes.
On “Can I Holla At Ya,” J. Cole personally dedicates a verse to three people over Lauryn Hill’s “To Zion” from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. It begins as expected, with J. Cole directing his words toward a young woman he’s interested in and eventually progresses into something much deeper.
He then turns his attention toward a stepfather figure in his life and thanks him for exposing him to rap music, but reprimands him for betraying the rapper’s mother and family.
“Thirteen years knew you more then my real pops/Put me on to ’Pac and all the rappers that killed cops/Who would’ve thought you’d leave my momma high and dry/ Last words to a b***h n****a, ‘Why you lie?’” J. Cole raps.
The track also addresses a friend who’s making poor choices in life, something fans old and new alike can relate to.
The only other immediately recognizable sample is of Nas’ track “Stay,” which was offered to J. Cole in 2009. He takes a different approach from Nas on this track, which is similar to what he does on “Can I Holla At Ya.”