May 23, 2017

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Nitish Pahwa voted for Ronald Dregan.The

OMB Peezy’s “Lay Down” video leaves you feeling like you just stepped into hazy clouds of weed smoke and scorching gunpowder. The Bay Area rapper by way of Alabama exhibits frantic charisma, catchily singing about murder and detailing his vicious exploits. He torches enemies with a gas pump, robs them repeatedly for every available dollar, and takes casual smoke breaks between fatal encounters — even if his victims happen to be a mother and her baby. The video doesn’t need to enhance these moments; Peezy is lyrically vivid enough to let you envision them on your own. He’s malevolent and mischievous, switching from nursery-rhyme taunts to nimble rapping so effortlessly that you don’t even realize when the track arrives back at the hook.

Released last December, “Lay Down” catalyzed OMB Peezy’s career, propelling him into rap word-of-mouth circles outside  the West Coast and the South. The song was the first big payoff for the 20 year-old, who had already been rapping for year. YouTube videos from almost five years back showcase him freestyling in Atlanta under the moniker Peezy Tha Shotta. According to an old ReverbNation profile, he first signed to New Millennium Productions, a Sacramento independent label, in 2013 as “Lil Peezy,” releasing a few tracks and videos throughout the following year. He presumably changed his name shortly after: a YouTube channel named after OMB Peezy features a trove of original songs, remixes, and collaborations dating back to late 2015. Featuring crudely-designed visuals, these tracks, including “New Glock,” “Rookie,” “My N***as,” “Ion Play Dat,” and “Pain,” all trace the gradual development of Peezy’s style up to “Lay Down.”

Soon after the video for “Lay Down” was released, OMB Peezy started a fresh SoundCloud account with that same track as the first available listen. In the following months, Peezy released “Interracial Relations” (which borrows the beat from the late Soulja Slim’s “From What I Was Told”) and “When I Was Down.” Both of these songs display a far more somber range of emotions. “Interracial Relations” is an angry account of merciless vengeance against his adversaries, while “When I Was Down” is forlorn, with passionate rants against fake, greedy friends. All of these tracks showcase a knack for infectious songwriting focusing on autobiographical subject matter, and each shows a unique blend of various regional styles. You can hear the murderous melodies of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, the rapid-speed internal rhymes of Bay Area pioneers E-40 and Spice 1, and the nasal tone of early Boosie (whom Peezy has cited as a longtime influence).

Peezy’s profile grew even further following these songs. His work met the ears of Nef the Pharaoh, who brought him on board to Sick Wid It Records in early February. After a 48 hour recording session, Peezy recorded his debut mixtape, titled Loyalty Over Love after a lyric from “When I Was Down” (“Fuck love without loyalty”). The music video for the title track was unveiled in March; “Loyalty Over Love,” which samples Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You,” is two minutes of frenetic rapping rich with wordplay as Peezy threatens to tear down all who stand in his way. (“Peezy hungry for a body / you makin’ him wanna eat!”). As of now, the tape doesn’t have a set release date, although it is ostensibly finished. Peezy has also been performing and working with Nef, recently appearing on Nef’s The Chang Project and reportedly collaborating on a tape titled 600 Degreez. If the promise of his work so far reflects in these projects, OMB Peezy may continue to rise as one of the most enthralling new up-and-comers of the year.