Ben Grenrock plays Bingo every Wednesday.
Roughly ten months ago, back when the LA Weekly was still a scion of local culture rather than a spray-tanned suppurating scab, Drakeo The Ruler spoke to the paper’s erstwhile hip-hop columnist through six inches of jailhouse glass. He told the writer that the first thing he’d do upon his release was “Hit the studio.” During Drakeo’s incarceration, the world outside of Los Angeles’ Men’s Central Jail has plummeted deeper into duplicitousness and unpredictability than a bad Scorsese spoof; prior his arrest, “fake news” was a term reserved for the National Enquirer, people could still Netflix House of Cards and Louie without feeling physically ill, and the White House wasn’t yet trying to bring manifest destiny back into vogue. Maybe the bulletproof glass shielded Drakeo’s character from whatever it is in the air that seems to be eroding everyone else’s, or maybe he was just a stand-up guy to begin with, because the young rapper kept exactly to his word.
The day he was released, Drakeo recorded “Big Banc Uchies,” dropping it less than twenty-four hours later. The track is a celebratory return to the same slurred-out style that earned him praise as South Central’s answer to Gucci Mane. As his fans would expect, Drakeo seasons his verses with his signature “lingo bingo” (a bespoke lexicon in which “Uchies” translates to “money”), discusses the technological advantages of automobiles made in 2016 vs. 2006, and maintains the reserved delivery that sets him apart from fellow gangster rappers like YG.
“Big Banc Uchies” finds him spitting with an even more reserved and slur-prone tone than you might recall. Both his flow and the beat provided by Bruce24K are less centered on tightness, detail, and compressed aggression than some of Drakeo’s earlier work—notably his breakout song, “Mr. Get Dough.” Instead, on “Big Banc Uchies” the beat is closer to the soundtrack of a bombastic homecoming than a calculated attack, and in his verses Drakeo sounds too overjoyed to finally be back in front of a microphone to seriously consider putting any of the firearms that are a staple of his videos’ mise en scène to use.
It’s a slightly different side to him, one in which he narrates his reentry into his natural habitat: a sun-drenched expanse where the cars are imported, the Sprite bottles contain liquid the color of PBS’s friendly dinosaur, and the ground is a forest floor of hundred-dollar bills. And none of this is fantasy or artifice. At the end of “Big Banc Uchies,” you can hear him pick up the hundo’s he’s been standing on while recording and crumple them in front of the mic; just so you know he’s still as good as his word.