Why not Jeff Chery? Why not the man who reverted from “Pay$0z” to his birth name, which seems to belong more to a disheveled French detective than an autotuned, Haitian-American rapper? Chery’s a midpoint between Atlanta’s internet-savvy teenagers and its elders, who conceal assault rifles under their estimable, wide-brimmed chapeaux. Still, he’s a bit of an oddity; he made a mid-career move from New York to Atlanta, and with his Southerly migration came a warble that is, in turns, choppy and melodic. His verses tumble, gaining momentum until they begin to feel like a robot eulogizing their own sense of empathy and propriety.
On “Family,” from Chery’s forthcoming mixtape Mufasa’s Way, the rapper half-excuses his actions as being in service of his loved ones. He wraps his gun in the boxey, bifurcated blue and red of the Haitian flag for his family, he’s haunted by corpses for his family, he wears garish Robin’s Jeans for himself. Trap narratives usually have complex motivations–why wouldn’t his? Overhyped Atlanta rappers spring eternal, only to wither when rap media’s fickle attentions turn elsewhere. Why not a more mature, battle-hardened option? Why not Jeff Chery?