Jack Spencer knows who to turn to whenever he’s bored
Yung Simmie’s methods for combating ennui include flexing, getting money, doing drugs, or calling your girl. “When I’m Bored” is a highlight from his latest mixtape Yung Smokey, and it details the listlessness that can come with balling, playing rap Madlibs as he describes doing different cool shit whenever he’s discontented. It’s certainly not the most intricately constructed song but it manages to get stuck in my head whenever boredom strikes. The Miami rapper has a knack for crafting engaging work from well-worn topics and somewhat lackadaisical flows, thanks largely to a malleable cadence and a unique production palate — provided largely by PurpDogg (of “We Made It” fame), DJ Smokey, and himself.
He’s clearly aware of these intangibles, naming a pair of 2013 mixtapes Shut Up And Vibe: four words which may well serve as a better critical engagement with his work than anything I could write. Much like that of his Raider Klan crew, Simmie’s music is less about engaging on a lyrical level and more about fitting a particular groove. For instance, songs like “NBA” make me think it’s time to call a moratorium on basketball similes but it’s certainly plenty catchy (aided by a guest spot from the slightly manic Cashy, who appears a few times and has a great chemistry with Simmie’s style). I can’t make many hyperbolic claims, as critics are wont to do these days, but this shit goes.
Simmie’s profile is beginning to gain on that of his Raider Klan counterpart SpaceGhostPurrp, whose affinity for crackly Three 6 Mafia bootlegs helped put the young Miami crew on the map in the early 2010’s. A conceptual counterpart to A$AP Mob’s hybridized amalgam of regional influences that dug into not just the stylistics and aesthetics but also the shitty sound quality and garbled sheen of their favorite bootleg hip-hop tapes, Purrp was so true to the actual feel of his influences that at times the work felt a little purposeless–those Three 6 tapes still exist, why not listen to those instead?
But his cut-and-paste aesthetic bled into Simmie’s work, who manages to play with influence keenly and more subtly. Still obviously rooted in the sounds of various expected sources like Screwed Up Click, Too $hort, and Project Pat, there’s little tinges of golden era New York, Chicago drill, and even underground backpack fare if you listen carefully. Cartoon loops on songs like “Acrobat” and “Popeye” wouldn’t be out of place on early MF Doom records, and “Yung Smokey Freestyle” and “Don’t You Copy 2” find Simmie applying a slight uptempo tilt to his laid-back shit-talking.
I caught Yung Simmie recently when he hit Minneapolis for an all-ages show with fellow Miami deviant Pouya, cultivating a space for the similarly bored youth to expend their pent-up energy. The under-18 crowd probably turns up more than anyone, thanks in part to having to do all their drinking in secret ahead of time., but also that the experience of going to a show is far more rare. Simmie maintained a down-tempo approach and a menacingly chill presence as he skated over every track. But the crowd’s buck reactions proved his style could easily serve as turn-up fodder or chill-out vibes depending where your head was at. I’ve seen my share of rappers who traipse through tracks live like they’d rather be doing anything else other than rapping, but Simmie’s scaled down energy is less half-hearted than precisely calculated, providing a show that hits that center space between relaxed and explosive. Yung Smokey is the best realized of his increasingly worthwhile mixtape material, and is worth checking out if you’re bored.