March 11, 2014

Will Hagle is looking for his activator. 

Reducing Bay Area rapper 100s to a shadow of his pimp rap ancestors would be reductive. The truth is that 100s is comprised of shards of several other artists from various musical backgrounds. He talks a Short-esque pimp game, sure, but he also hails from the same city as the Based God. He was exiled to boarding school in a distant country when he was 16. He’s half-Jewish, half-black. His facial hair is two vertical lines away from Katt Williams’.

Still, a single glance at the purple cosmic cover of IVRY, the artist’s latest free EP, and the throwback accusations don’t seem out of line. The album mimics the tone set by its artwork. There are bass-and-synth grooves, freaky tales and vocoders galore.

For the most part, this style plays to 100s’ advantage. Standout “Fuckin’ Around” is pure funk glory, and “Ten Freaky Hoes” finds 100s running through a list of his women, the level of explicitness falling somewhere between “Mambo Number 5” and “Colt 45” (the catchiness level leans more towards Lou Bega’s side). “Middle of the Night” even tries to force in a guitar solo, although it’s 100s’ The Love Below-style sung experimentalism that truly makes the track excel.

IVRY‘s most modern sound comes on “Can A N**** Hit It,” rare not only for its hi-hat heavy contemporary production but also for the way 100s poses his sexual conquests as a question rather than a demand.

The rest of the album is filled with 100s tipping a furry leopard-printed hat towards the pimp lifestyle. It would be easy to discredit 100s for mimicking more authentic macks, but don’t forget that some of the best pimp records of all time where not made by actual pimps. Terrence Howard was the vessel that made the Three Six Mafia “Academy Award Winners!” ad-lib possible.

With Too $hort approaching AARP eligibility, 100s might be exactly what the East Bay needs — a young talent with the heart of a gangsta,mind of a hustla, tongue of a pimp. Isn’t everyone on that side of the Bay Bridge indebted to Mac Dre, anyways? IVRY is slightly derivative, yes. But it pulls from so many different elements that it can’t be criticized on that basis alone. Plus, these 8 songs slap hella hard. Yadadamean?

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