A look into some of the better mixtapes of the last few weeks.
Mixtape Corner is a place where we take a closer look at some of the mixtape releases that weren't necessarily big enough to garner a review, but still deserve your attention.
Curren$y & The Alchemist- The Carrollton Heist
Curren$y has been one of the most prolific rappers of the last half-decade, to the point it can be easy to fall behind on his work. As something of an auteur, his output is a more of a constant stream of consciousness, rarely punctuated and all the better for it; though once in a while, his insular world is challenged -- if ever so slightly -- by an outside force. On last year's Canal Street Confidential, the structure of the major label rap album presented a test, which Spitta passed by tweaking his textures to make room for hooks from August Alsina and K Camp.
On The Carrollton Heist, that force is present once again, this time in the form of The Alchemist. The two artists first collaborated on a full length with 2011's massively underrated Covert Coupe, and like that project, Alch's loops add a sense of urgency to Curren$y's meditative default. The tension turns the feel from 70s car commercial to car chase, with the tape's most exciting moment coming in the Lil Wayne collaboration, "Fat Albert," which forces both rappers to come with their most ferocious raps, sounding confident and paranoid at once -- with Wayne taking the baton from his former labelmate and nailing the mixture of absurd and emotional for the first time in recent memory.
The next track, "Smoking In The Rain," feels like the comedown from the euphoric highs of "Albert," with Spitta sounding more vulnerable than ever, reflecting on past relationships, and inflecting his laid-back flows with broken spirits. From there, we're left with an uneasy instrumental from Alchemist, and we have no other choice but to run it all back again.
Sicko Mobb- Super Saiyan Vol. 3
Sicko Mobb's debut mixtape, Super Saiyan Vol. 1, had a similar appeal to Fetty Wap's recent LP -- all hooks, all the time, and no Monty to disperse the energy. Like Fetty, the duo's members' Lil Trav and Lil Ceno had a few signature melodies they'd often sink into, almost serving as a callback, and giving the project the feel of one long party that's so much fun you've lost track of whether the playlist is on repeat or not.
The pulse of the project was in the skittering, footwork-inflected beats that also happened to be the core of the bop scene the duo was birthed out of, but on the follow-up, Super Saiyan Vol. 2, not only did the Trav and Ceno expand their melodic palette, they also adjusted their tempos. The result was a whole thats parts were more discernible, and an easier entry point for those who were taken aback by the sugar-high velocity of SSV1.
Now, with the arrival of SSV2, Sicko have continued to stretch their sound, both in length and width, embracing slower tempos, sub-bass-driven records, and in some cases, very minimal drum programming.
It's all in the service of making bigger, more memorable standalone pieces, but the heart of their style is never lost, with some of the best moments of the tape nodding toward their early bop-centric work, as Jeremih dives headfirst into Sicko World, while DJ Nate supplies a more complex vision of where bop could venture next -- just one of many places where Sicko Mobb seem to be a couple steps ahead.
Skooly- Trench Gotti
Nard & B are some of the most underrated producers in the game, despite being one Future's best collaborators. The duo has contributed instrumentals to the rapper throughout the various phases of his career, giving him the euphoric blast of 'Straight Up,' the twisted beauty of 'Throwaway,' and the bleak catchiness of "Inside The Mattress".
Despite their incredible use of dynamics and enviable versatility -- as far as we know -- no one has tapped them to soundtrack an entire project, until now.
Skooly seems like the perfect match for Nard & B, continually overlooked by the press while hugely influential within his city, the rapper laid the blueprint for the melody-obsessed Atlanta through his work with Rich Kidz, and when it comes to technically skilled singers within the region's rap community, he's still among the top tier.
While Rich Kidz saw Skooly belting unapologetically, the rapper's solo work has him retreating to the pocket. Here he uses Nard & B's constantly shape-shifting production as a guide, gravitating towards the center of the arrangements rather than pushing them forward. It makes for a more understated and nuanced approach to songwriting for Skooly, bearing at least some resemblance to the work of the defunct Rich Gang, which is no accident, as the rapper spent much of his early career shaping his songs alongside London On Da Track, and is still present on the beatmaker's drop -- a symbol of how he's informed the vocals that follow it.
While he finds his footing in Atlanta's current rap landscape, Skooly never ventures too far into the darkness, avoiding the popular 808 Mafia-esque territory of many of his peers. these songs in particular embrace melancholy, but there's always a glimmer of hope both is the vocals and the production, as if they're reaching something, and in both cases it might finally be within their grasp.