July 23, 2013

Max Bell is predisposed to like artists with the name Max.

If you really want an in-depth view of Baton Rouge rapper Max Minelli, see Jeff’s extensive interview with Minelli published this time last year. But if brevity is your thing, here’s the short, short version: Max Minelli has been rapping, as many rappers from Baton Rouge have done/are prone to do, since his early teens. He was part of C-Loc’s Concentration Camp and was instrumental in the completion of Lil Boosie’s first album. As of today, he’s a fixture in the Baton Rouge rap scene, with over 10 albums and a slew of mixtapes, many released independently.

While almost all of his tracks have a gangsta bent, Minelli’s always been, as Jeff has said before “a thinking man’s Baton Rouge rapper.” The evidence is all over his catalogue—see mixtapes Backpack Dreams & Hiphop Wishes and California Dreams, where he raps over beats from artists as dissimilar as Atmosphere, Biggie, and Domino.

With his latest independent release, Gunpowder for Breakfast (June 25), Minelli is all about riding out on the enemy with your people, the burn out and the turn up. This is gangster music for the summer, windows down and trunk rattling. It’s Max getting his smoke, lean, and fuck on. No computer stock speakers will do.

Aggressive New Orleans bounce is all over this thing. There’s rarely a beat that doesn’t inspire you do poke your elbows at 90 and bob your head in hopes that beautiful women suddenly materializes out of thing air to twerk in front of you. Never is this more evident than on the Mouse on tha Track produced “Remi.”

Mouse has helped supply the rap soundtrack of B.R. for the last eight years—you should have Swagga Fresh Freddie already—and many producers on the album pull bits and pieces from him, giving the album the cohesiveness that almost makes it playable front to back with out hitting the skip button. Among the many stand outs, at least from a “turn that shit up, my dude” production p.o.v., are “Hashtag,” “Realest Alive,” and “BitchWhut.”

Of the three, “Realest Alive” is the most haunting, the most spaced out . With the light keys creeping like the enemy, the bass menacingly pumping, and the synths shooting in every direction, it’s the soundtrack for the intergalactic trap superhero. And, true to his Baton Rouge lineage, Minelli also raps over Young Bleed’s “Pull It Off” on “Seventeen.” If things keep going this way, I personally hope the Young Bleed resurrection is on the horizon.

Rapping wise, it’s never a question as to whether Minelli will bring it. He’s a “killer bumping Thriller” (“Fuckum”) that can spit with the trap elite. That said, Minelli treads familiar terrain, the tropes—women, weed, drugs, violence, being the realest, etc.—remain the same and there’s much that feels surface level. Though there’s nothing wrong with that, and there are some more introspective tracks. “Goin Thru Some Changes” is self-explanatory in title, a document of Minelli’s struggles, both past and present: the Baton Rouge blues.

At the end of the day, Gunpowder for Breakfast doesn’t reinvent the trap rap color wheel. But it doesn’t need to and isn’t aiming to do so. Some forms only need redone over and over again, with each artist adding his or her own new subtle changes to the shades on the palette. Gunmetal grey, gunpowder black, and arterial red were are already there. Minelli just brought a different brush to the studio this time.

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