Curren$y finds middle territory between the mainstream and underground for his new album, "Canal Street Confidential."
Curren$y built the foundation of his following on a legendary run of mixtapes that started around the 2008 era. It was seven (count 'em!) tapes of spitting over classic hip hop beats with a fresh flow that poised him to be the next big thing in New Orleans hip hop. Tapes like Higher Than 30,000 Feet, Super Tecmo Bowl, Welcome to the Winner’s Circle, and Fast Times at Ridgemont Fly are still blueprints for what a mixtape should be. They were lighthearted, accessible, and quickly followed up with more material. Through these times, Curren$y founded a budding relationship with another up-and-coming rapper called Wiz Khalifa. The two shared a passion for smoking papers, the green stuff that fills them, clothes, and chicks. Together, they founded a new wave of stoner rap that dudes like Smoke DZA, Mac Miller, and Big K.R.I.T. dived into around the same time.
Wiz Khalifa is featured on Canal Street Confidential, proving that rap friendships don’t always dissipate via fame, petty beef or jealousy. “They hate to see us winnin’ / Me and my nigga Spitta / Can’t believe we did it,” are the lyrics that Wiz ends the song with. It’s fitting to feel that way, being a couple of class clowns who have made a killing by simply being themselves. Neither rapper has spit bars proclaiming to be a tough guy in quite some time. They’re full of themselves for the cars they drive, the girls they text, the weed they smoke, etc., but they aren’t intimidating anyone on the track. If Wiz and Curren$y share one thing in common, it’s their approachable characters. They’re regular people who just happen to make dope music.
Spitta and Wiz have always been cool in the public eye, however Wayne and Curren$y have had a bit rockier of a relationship. Wayne, who has had a number of protégés who he was unable to truly help to the top, first introduced Spitta in 2005. For a minute there it seemed like the two were poised to be the next Batman and Robin of hip hop. Curren$y was on some of Wayne’s most seminal projects: Tha Carter II, Dedication 2, Da Drought 3, and the smash single “Where da Cash At.” The relationship eventually imploded after the Cash Money/Young Money team never really released Curren$y’s record. It’s good to see the two are still on good terms, and continue to make music together, even if Wayne’s been surpassed by his once-student in terms of musical ability.
While Wiz and Wayne may be obvious choices for album collabs, Curren$y is also expanding his network. The first track, "Drive By," features man-of-the-moment Future, and while the two may not have a whole lot in common on paper, the track scans as one of the better moments of the album. Purps, of the Lex Luger-founded 808 Mafia, provides the beat for this track and five others on the record, giving a modern Atlanta vibe to the New Orleans native’s record. While Spitta laid his foundation rapping over classic 90s production, he’s been leaning more towards the modern trap stylings as of late, for better or worse.
If you came up with Curren$y during the aforementioned golden era of his mixtape grind, you may be weary of hearing him rap alongside Future over beats that sound like Future’s. The skepticism is understood, and realistically Curren$y doesn’t excel in that type of rapping like he does with the boom-bap stoner raps. However, the fact that Spitta is continuously evolving and experimenting even in 2015 is a testament to his artistry.
With Curren$y, every moment is a ‘high’ moment, so to speak, but the album definitely is one of peaks and valleys. The Lloyd-featured “How High” and K Camp-featured “What’s Up” sound like they would have been better off on Wale’s album than Spitta’s. At four and five minutes a piece, respectfully, the tracks take up more time than they ought to, and bog down the project with a slow start. “Everywhere” isn’t Curren$y’s finest moment either, as he struggles to really find a pocket in Purps’ beat. It just sounds a little confused in its delivery, something that is out of character for the always-smooth MC. The same could be said for “Speed,” which lacks its namesake in place of a silky/spastic instrumental, depending on which measure you’re critiquing.
The album picks up around the halfway mark with the Wiz Khalifa-assisted cut that is both nostalgic (to hear those two dudes on the same track), but keeps it moving forward as they continue to experiment with their styles and grow as artists. “Cruzin…” is closer to the mixtape Spitta that has been more-so absent in recent years. At under two minutes (of actual music), it scans as an interlude, but it’s actually better executed than most of the tracks on Canal Street Confidential. He puts a little player talk in the end there to let you know he’s still keepin’ it real with the ladies.
“Superstar,” the Ty Dolla $ign-featured track, is another fine moment on the record. Ty$, who is a beast musician, singer, and producer, flexes his vocal ability in a way that gives the track a tasteful vibe, something that lacked on the cornier “How High.” “Boulders” proves that Purps and Curren$y can truly lock in on a track, and it proves to be the dopest 3:26 minutes of the entire record. “I can move a boulder with a Boost mobile,” is the hook that will resonate in your cranium for the duration of the day, and the 808 Mafia tag never rang truer than it does with the absolutely monster beat. This is the type of instrumental that could find its way into a Bassnectar set, but even with Spitta’s lazy flow it’s a total banger.
Cookin’ Soul connects with the Hot Spitta for the album-ending track “All Wit My Hands.” It’s a fitting end to an album, and mixes the trap tendencies that created Canal Street Confidential with a tempo that Curren$y is a little more cozy with. Cookin’ Soul did a great job on the beat, and it ends the record on a high note.
The deluxe edition of the record contains another awesome track in “The Game” along with a more understandable outtake with “Str8.” Overall, Canal Street Confidential will stand as another strong release in Spitta’s great catalogue. It may not be his finest work to date, but it’s amazing to hear the New Orleans MC continue to flesh out original concepts, and take his game to another level through the power of hip hop.