Max Bell also enjoys the New Beverly theatre.
After 30 plus projects, summarizing and/or describing the tropes of Curren$y’s music seems futile. The kush is from L.A. and the wax is from the Bay. The kicks are dead stock, the finest vintage. The money, classic cars and women keep moving. I know, you know, and Curren$y knows.
Yet there’s something about each Spitta project that brings me back, something that makes me check the DatPiff countdown and clear my schedule for method listening. Some devotees I know say its all a matter of expectations – low expectations yield (seemingly) greater rewards. However, Curren$y raises the bar on nearly every project, growing as a lyricist and songwriter. Granted, there are so many songs, and the changes are so subtle, that it’s often difficult to suss out the tracks and lines that display growth. That said, even if you haven’t taken the time pick away the sticks and stems, you shouldn’t underestimate Curren$y. You should have high expectations – he definitely does.
To say his latest gratis gift, The Drive In Theatre, is the greatest would be damning. Until there’s a coughee shortage, he’ll continue to write rhymes and release music. If history is any indicator, some will be fantastic (New Jet City) and others fairly average (Bales). For now, I’ll say The Drive in Theatre is the best Curren$y project in the last six months (the best of the last four, if you’re counting).
If production is fifty percent of the battle, then many a rapper should heed Curren$y’s strategy. His ear for audio dope rivals Walter White’s ability to produce the purest blue crystal. No matter whom he works with, he manages to find beats both mellow and mobile, beats equally made for utterly stoned stasis and/or lifted lane changing. And, like a dense, dank, and crystal coated cross-strain, their potency lies in their carefully selected pairing.
For The Drive In Theatre, he worked heavily with Thelonious Martin, whose influences (according to his Bandcamp bio) include Dilla, Pete Rock, Madlib, and Alchemist. Pete Rock’s soulful boom-bap is, fittingly, all over the track “Grew up in This.” And there are heavy shades of Alchemist’s yacht rock on “M.P.R.” Still, despite the reverent nods to his influences, Martin does a more than solid job adding his own touch to each production, largely avoiding paint-by-numbers parody. Also, as per usual, frequent Curren$y collaborators Cardo and Cookin Soul deliver superb and sativa clouded suites.
Beat selection notwithstanding, few rappers are capable of soliciting features from Action Bronson, Freddie Gibbs, and B-Real for a free project. Action and Gibbs are in top form, and B-Real’s verse on “E.T.” harkens back to his Black Sunday days. Maybe the air in Spitta’s is particularly rare or maybe his seemingly constant writing inspires his collaborators. Either way, I hope a collabo EP with B-Real is in the works.
Regardless of any of the above, Spitta remains the main attraction on every outing. He’s always been at ease behind the mic, but his delivery here is as smooth as a hit of the G-Pen.
Also, his writing has never been better. It takes skill and perspective to make waking up to leftovers and the doobie ashtray seem like waking up in a new Bugatti. For further proof of Curren$y’s scribbling strides, see his vivid description of attending a wine tasting at the beginning of “Vintage Vineyard.”
If you haven’t gleaned so yet, part of Curren$y’s appeal, at least for me, is the knowledge that he diligently practices the craft of writing. Many of his songs include rhymes about his writing, or what he’s doing while he’s writing. It’s a meta-device that never tires. I’m a writer, and I’ll always enjoy hearing about it (“Make a mistake, then a revision / Make ‘em see that shit the way you did” – “E.T.”).
All the above said and meant, not every track is aural or lyrical top-shelf quality. There are some that, if released on their own, would fall flat (i.e. “$ Migraine”). Fortunately, if you’re wary of the skip button, they make for unobtrusive and tolerable bridges between better cuts.
Now, as with all Curren$y projects, the themes I mentioned at the beginning will continue to prove problematic for some. But they have been, and will always be, Spitta’s lane. And few manage to move around with such seeming ease, variety, and prolificacy. Weed, women, whips — as Curren$y says at the end of “Vintage Vineyard,” “To live another way doesn’t make sense.”