Harley Geffner don’t wanna hug, rather just smoke.
Chris Travis – Teenage Freak Show
While VHS aesthetics and obsession with water are numbingly common now, Chris Travis was making grainy videos on old family tape recorders and putting on for Fiji dating back to the early 2010’s. After splitting from legendary mega-collective Raider Klvn in 2012 to build his own empire, he started his own imprint WaterBoyzEnt and later teamed up to create the new mega-collective SESHOLLOWATERBOYZ with Xavier Wulf, Bones and Eddy Baker. One would really need to write a book to properly characterize the impact of these two groups, but I barely have time to walk my dog or buy groceries. And I’m probably not the one for the task anyways.
Having grown up in Memphis, Chris Travis is true to his roots in that Tommy Wright III was his favorite rapper growing up and he listened almost exclusively to phonk. Everyone who follows Genius on Twitter can now trace the line from Three 6 to Raider Klvn and maybe tangentially understand how that influence seeps into their Spotify playlists today. But most people’s conception of Raider Klvn starts and ends with SGP. I re-listened to CT’s 2012 Pizza & Codeine tape yesterday and half of the cuts easily could have been on an early Rocky tape. But even so, it feels like very few are paying attention whenever any of the guys from these groups drops new music, despite the massive number of plays they garner with cult fanbases. It took me two weeks to find this new Chris Travis tape and almost nothing in the world brings me joy like a new Chris Travis tape.
Never one to slur his words with that West Tennessee accent, Chris’s breathy syllables hit like a dropped brick and his grr ad-libs still get me every time. His minacious thoughts and plans are meticulously calculated all throughout Teenage Freak Show. You can hear that creeping precision in the intro, which is immediately followed by a bubbly and flirtatious smoker jam (“Brought her to my spot, she don’t wanna do nun’ but smoooowooke”). Why So Serious gave me a case of the Jay-Z stink face. Full disclosure, at least two beats a week do that to me, but this one is a straight taser to the balls that sent reverberating shockwaves down my spine for hours. Scrub the Ground is a soft electro-pop ballad and Ring Ring is a dancehall-inspired should-be radio hit.
The tape is a manageable 25 minutes and well-balanced between the smoother melodic sections and the voltage-inducing ones. Just when it feels like it might be about to fall into a lull, he sends in the defibrillator. Like almost all of his tapes, Teenage Freakshow has no features, so it’s just Chris telling you his story. FWIW this might be my project of the year so far. It’s up there with the Vic Spencer x Tree tape.
Ohgeesy x 1takejay – “Sucking and Fucking”
Paying homage to Suga Free in both cover art and the massively funky bassline flip of Rabbit Food, 1takejay and Shoreline’s Ohgeesy pack a potent 1-2 punch on Sucking and Fucking. Jay’s animated as per usual and sarcastically bops around the deep bumps in the beat, prefering to give you his bitch than his money (she only good for sucking and fucking). He’ll give you his because he’s ready to take yours, as he glibly remarks “she left cuz my dick way bigger // I last for an hour and you cum way quicker (bop).”
You can almost picture Suga Free delivering these semi-jokingly misogynistic lines like he does all over the Smell My Finger album from the cover art, like on Allergic to Bullshit when he offhandedly rambles “You like a cigarette butt to me bitch, I smoke you and throw yo ass away when I’m done with you!” Ohgeesy calms the mood of the track, complementing Jay’s exuberance with his unbothered posture, taking all the chips when it’s time to dip. Pimp Hop is back baby.
Vince Ash – “Mafia Music (ft. Skiiny, Nuskii & Tramaine)”
Hailing from Northern Indiana, Vince Ash’s sepia-tinted raps and muddied menace fits somewhere at the intersection of Freddie Gibbs and G Herbo. The production on Mafia Music comes from Juicy J and DJ Paul of Three 6 notoriety, and hums along as smoky and minimalistic nightcore while Ash, Skiiny, Nuskii and Tramaine trade threatening bars about testing their mafia. It’s not luxury mafia rap from Rick Ross’s villa though. It’s living the life out on the streets, shooting dice and pinching pennies before showing up like Santa at your door with the Mac 11. They got homies on call, ready to draw, and they be sketching you out. This is all before Juicy and Paul send down haunting angelic choirs from above with a beat switch.
Larry June – “Dear Snow”
Every Larry June song feels so relatable. He’s lowkey and raps about his girl folding laundry while he’s rolling a blunt or apologizing for being so busy and asking her if she wants to go to get ramen on Sunday. It’s downtempo Bay-area chill personified. Maybe he’ll go to the farmer’s market today, maybe he’ll complain about Postmates being late with his Benihana (a very Valee-esque flex). Larry’s as consistent as they come.
Saviii 3rd – “The Glory”
On the intro track to his late 2018 Snowboy tape, Saviii 3rd is skeptical of those around him now that he’s on and signed to Cash Money West. They weren’t around when he was getting cracking and now “you only gang when it’s convenient ain’t you?” It’s less a paranoia over those taking from him now that he’s up and more a haha fuck y’all celebration of success, having come from the unforgiving streets where “all we know is bang bang, never learned to run.”
He’s dancing around the block with his crew, staying ten toes down in his Adidas, and enjoying the Cali sunshine. He’s “with my n****s sipping liquor with that OJ // we all in traffic gettin ratchet while this song play.” One YouTube commenter put it best: “Wait till the summer hit…this on repeat blowing dro while late night cruisin.”
Bby Laana – “Skitz”
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