July 30, 2012

Deen doesn’t know about that crown.

If I’m keeping it honest with y’all, I’ll have to admit that I really have zero interest in listening to anything that isn’t Life Is Good until Freddie Gibbs or Juicy J drop a new project. However, this bloggist shit is quite the responsibility, so write I must. Writing about new shit means listening to new shit first.

If that last paragraph came off as being less than excited, don’t trip. I can usually muster up a decent amount of enthusiasm for any song or project that has the words “Lex” and “Luger” attached to it. And that, in a nutshell, is how I found myself listening to Cyhi the Prynce’s new mixtape, Ivy League Club. Just so I feel less guilty about ignoring most the tape, I’ll go ahead and recommend it off the strength of a hilariously violent sampling and interpolation of Sade’s ‘Smooth Operator.” Besides, Cyhi is actually a pretty decent MC. Far better than decent to be fair. He just catches a ton of residual weed-carrier slander because Medium Sean has managed to fanute his mediocrity into a decent following, which makes it a little difficult for folks to dismiss him these days.

Back to my main interest: Lex Luger. Pause. I’ll skip the rise to prominence/trap-rap domination shit. All I’ll say is that he was probably the best of that bunch of producers and he seemed to, for lack of a better phrase, master that sound with terrifying and increasingly boring efficiency. Just as I was about to dismiss him as a one-trick pony, I heard Waka Flocka’s “Grove St. Party” and I knew that Luger would have a future in this rap shit. So I’ve spent the last few months monitoring his development as a producer. It’s possible that I’m just biased as fuck, but I’m liking what I’m hearing thus far.

Luger’s first non-trap turn was “That Way,” the Wale/Jeremih song off  Self Made, Vol. 1.  Honestly, I wasn’t impressed. Lex just repurposed a well-worn loop (Curtis Mayfield’s “Give Me Your Love”) into a slow, plodding ballad that I imagine bitches liked – and I ain’t no bitch. His next major foray into post-trap life was ‘The Code” off Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Allderdice mixtape. I loved that shit. Still do. It sounded like the perfect synthesis of Lex’s OG approach and a newer, more nuanced and musical vibe. In other words, Lex managed to add new elements to his trademark Three-6 aping while maintaining the energy associated with his beats.

“Real Talk” is more of the same – if a bit more ominous sounding. There’s icy synths, muted bass, random chirps and other shit I don’t have adjectives for yet. It’s lovely. I think the trick for Lex’s future is to just keep expanding his toolkit without completely abandoning the basics.

You know what would have been REALLY interesting to me? Nnote that I said “to me” – keep your e-ratchets holstered please. Since Rick Rawse insists on making the same song over and over again (“B.M.F.”), why not work with the guy who gave you that hit in the first place? There are at least 3 songs on God Forgives, I Don’t that are essentially facsimiles of “B.M.F.,” but none of them were produced by the guy who does that shit best. Where they do that at? The rap industry. I imagine that if Lex Luger was signed to MMG, we’d hear more collaborations between him and Rawse, but that isn’t the case, so we’ve spent the last 20 months or so listening to a series of shitty imitators hit and miss with Rawse and his MMG acolytes.

I suppose shitty songs like “Hold Me Back” and “911” are the eventual by-product of reviving an easily imitable sound. Rawse probably keeps going back to JUSTICE League because no one else makes stuff that sounds like theirs. On the other hand, I could make a shitty version of a Lex/Trap-Rap beat in under 20 minutes. And I’ll probably cost much less than Lex charges. So capitalism wins again. For those of us who think the man has genuine talent, Lex isn’t resting on his laurels — even if it means putting up with a rapper who insists on misspelling the word “prince”…

Download:
MP3: Cyhi the Prynce – “Real Talk” (prod. by Lex Luger)
ZIP: Cyhi the Prynce – Ivy League

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