Jonah Bromwich doesn’t order well drinks.

You could be forgiven for thinking that Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire has changed. If you didn’t delve too deeply into Lost In Translation, you may have found it fun: loud, lewd, and full of absurdist fantasies and shots of vodka. But there was dirty, stark realism at the core of the Brooklyn rapper’s debut, and Exquire continues to have no interest in sanitizing his style with anything remotely easy to process.

Last month, eXquire grasped the full absurdity of the holiday, by calling his latest tape, Merry Ex-Mas and Suck My Dick. Here, here’s grittier, angrier and dead serious– the Grinch habitually robbing and murdering the citizens of Whoville. The darkness comes early and often. See “Huzzah 2,” which expunges the glee from the original track. Exquire raps “alcohol and rhymin’ all I got/so tell me how I heed the warning/that one day they both sprout arms and then devour me.” It’s a cartoonish image, but that doesn’t take away from the fear and fatalism.

Musically, this desperation works in his favor. His rhymes are as tight and his sudden tempo switches sound seamless, tempered by his impressive ability to shoehorn the extra words he into space usually reserved for inhalation. On “Killah Tofu,” his duet with Danny Brown, eXquire holds his own as a slow-flow counterpart, his ambitions and paranoia colliding with his inner nine-year-old. Throughout, he displays the puerile creativity which he admits that he has tried to shove below the surface.

When we do get those flashes of creativity, Exquire provides the same pulpy worldview, able to provide a quick parable. Hence, his quick, goofy riff on “Peso,” (“RIP Payso (Produced by one of them ASAP niggaz I forgot)”) or when he claims that “tiger blood is running through my veins, sake dripping on my SB’s” on “Biggie Tribute.” But for the most part, the grungy reality of life as a broke rapper is front and center, where violent sex and raw emotion have taken the place of the kid stuff that used to be a workable distraction.

The mixtape peters out as a half-assed take on D’Angelo’s “Devil’s Pie,”  starts a streak of songs which would better have been left alone — save for the nerdy-gangster track “Nightmare on Fed Street.” “No Remorse” and “Drunken Freestyle” don’t bring much to the table beside slightly sub-par rapping and an extra ten minutes of nonsense. Then too, there is the undeniable frustration that the best song on the tape, “Two 22’s” is interrupted by a nearly-unintelligble conversation that saps all the energy out of the proceedings.

So Merry Ex-Mas and Suck my Dick isn’t a good introduction to eXquire, and it isn’t meant to be. It’s supplementary, an expansion of a well-forged personality who further proves that he has a great ear for beats and knows how to express himself well over them. While the mixtape wasn’t the present I was hoping for, it’ll tide me over as an assurance of better things to come.

ZIP: Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire – “Merry eXmas and Suck my Dick”

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