Max Bell has a $1000 shaved head.
“You ain’t gotta think about it, cause you already know.” So goes the hook to “MDA,” the title track from Million Dollar Afro, the collaborative mixtape from Compton-bred rapper Problem and Richmond’s prodigal son IamSu!. It’s the statement of intent, nothing has changed since either man’s last solo effort, and thus, “you already know.” The blunts are still the size of “batons,” the “ratchets” and “saditty’s” (look it up) continue to buzz like bees and flock like Waka, and other dudes have yet to figure out how to “step [their] dick game up.” It’s another way of saying that, after “Function,” Problem and Su’s mega-hit of synthesized ratchedom with E-40 and fellow racheteer YG, the collaboration was inevitable.
Million Dollar Afro starts off strong, with “MDA” and “That N***a” inhabiting two sides of the ratchet spectrum. The former is Problem and Su’s version of a Future/Kirko Bangz track, with the auto-tune in full effect and the stacks and racks omnipresent. The latter is a more subdued, laid back, and blunted cut, with a minimalist backdrop and heavy bass, what I like to call a “twist up slapper.” Or something.
The tape then moves to “I Need It,” a definite standout that reworks the beat from Masta Ace’s classic “Jeep Ass N**uh,” and serves the same function as its source material, whether you are “driving down the block” in your 4×4 or actually at a function. After that, it’s on to “Understand Me,” which has a menacing bass line akin to “Function,” the slapping drums of all Yay area goodies, and the seediness of the best of Juicy J tracks. It’s the X-Files meets E-40, who would be perfect for a potential remix.
(If everything about this project sounds foreign to you, if you’re looking for an intro, then check IamSU!’s last project, $uzy 6 $peed. It’s a solid precursor, in that much of the sound stays the same. The Juvenile/Kool John assisted “100 Grand” also appears on both 6 and Million Dollar Afro.)
At 17 tracks, not every single one is right on the money—the Too $hort assisted track surprisingly falls sober. But together, Problem and Su have released their most cohesive project to date. “Change Up” will be a must at functions across the globe, and “I Get Bitches,” which is infectious, and has been in my brain since I hit play, is the 2013 equivalent of the late 80s/early 90s Too $hort aesthetic.
Even though they “make this look easy” (“Understand Me“), it’s not. To put together this many tracks of danceable ratchet rap with a high replay value is a feat matched only by their kin, YG (Jeff has words here ). With Million Dollar Afro Problem and Su have near perfected their formula, as the beats and bars remain in near perfect symbiosis. I say near because, as is the case with any successful ratchet track, lyrics are almost always secondary.
THe only logical move from here this is for Su and Problem to form like Voltron with YG and DJ Mustard for a super group project tentatively titled “Ratchet Rap Dynasty” (residuals).