Max Bell went to Catholic school.
Members of the Passion Weiss staff recently held an immaculately stoned retreat to sing the praises of our favorite Curren$y epistles. We weren’t divided so much as we were elated to articulate our varied faith. With over ten years worth of Spitta projects, choosing one is like choosing one decidedly potent strain over another—you know you’re going to get high, you know your time and/or money will be well spent. Spark one, receive the sacrament, and repeat in preparation for the afterlife.
After over ten years of prolificacy, the Jet Life eminence refuses to stop going in. Cathedral is the latest rolling paper turned writ. Ostensibly recorded in one day, Spitta announced the gratis EP via Twitter on the 4th and dropped it on the 5th. It was originally supposed to be five tracks, but he defied his own divination and gave you seven. The final number is synonymous with the Christian Sabbath because Curren$y is forever woke. Here he’s found God in the burning bush once again. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if he sends Pope Francis a .zip and a zip regularly.
Half of the reason each Curren$y effort succeeds (some more than others, obviously) is the production, his inimitable ear. Rarely has one rapper been capable of pairing his voice with the perfect beat so consistently. It’s a testament to his uncompromising aural vision. The mood he shapes and deepens when rapping is there before he even says a word.
The production on Cathedral is courtesy of fellow New Orleans native Chase N Cashe. Throughout, Curren$y glides over top shelf audio dope from the tabernacle. Opener “In the Night” is a muted big band parade down Bourbon St., swinging with all of the jazz missed on other recent rap experiments. “All Over” is built around a stand-up bass line that makes all Mustard rip offs feel even thinner than they are. Sparse and deftly placed keys glint like a glass of whiskey under dim cabaret lights, strings are pulled from mob movie scores, and the minimal percussion cracks like the best rolled bud. To expound on the efficacy of each track would be a disservice. I’ll end by saying that the bluesy “Like Five Deuce Four Tray” ranks among my favorite beats for 2015.
Production notwithstanding, Curren$y is so consistently above par that we take him for granted. It’s difficult to notice the progression. On Cathedral he is at his most polished, delivering stoned sermons with the seeming ease only afforded to those who hone their craft daily. Not everything is profound, but it isn’t supposed to be. On “Like Five Deuce Four Tray”, an intimate and vividly drawn portrait of a young Spitta hanging with his older brother, he even goes so far as to address the heretics who claim his lyrics “lack dimension” and are “one-sided” (“Like Five Deuce Four Tray”), that they retread the same tropes he’s covered since Sports Center, Vol. 1. Of course, Curren$y knows why we listen. We listen for another glimpse at the saga, to ride in the SS and smoke the finest vicariously. The keef crystals of truth embedded within are, like the final track with B.G.’s son T.Y. (Son of a Gangsta here), a bonus. Church.