Binge-Watching the Block: On 03 Greedo and Kenny Beats’ Netflix and Deal

Harold Bingo reviews one of the best rap albums of the year.
By    November 26, 2019

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Harold Bingo blew up the kid.

Shortly before departing for the penitentiary in the West Texas badlands, Greedo rapped declaring that he “just had my last episode, season finale“. It felt indicative of the lens that he’s applied to his current prison stint; it’s  rightfully viewed as merely the end of a chapter, as opposed to the end of the story. Now, he’s found the producer who best understands how to help him push this concept to its logical endpoint.

Kenny Beats is rapidly becoming an heir to the Alchemist’s throne: someone adept at locking in with ostensibly unlikely kindred spirits and getting the most out of them. Whether it’s Greedo or Rico Nasty, Vince Staples or ALLBLACK or a Key!, Kenny is a throwback to the time when “producer” wasn’t synonymous with “beatmaker.” And Netflix and Deal is suffused with the the sort of loving care that could only come from a gifted musician who doubles as one of Greedo’s biggest fans.

You can see it in the attention to detail in which the project was released. The original record was finished 18 months ago, but it took time to recruit the numerous big name guests and edit a fascinating 16-minute documentary. Kenny’s on record as saying he was Greedo’s biggest fan before they became friends and this positive creative connection shows throughout the project. His carefully chosen backdrops give Greedo the room to create music that remains compulsively listenable — all while the weight of a looming prison sentence looms in the background.

The Blow and Maria, Full of Grace homages might garner most of the attention but the odes to Life and Dead Presidents are where the project’s heartbeat lies. The project functions as a distillation of what makes Greedo’s catalog such a rewarding listen, with songs that can cater to a variety of emotions. His dark sense of humor is juxtaposed with reminders of what he’s escaped from and what lies ahead. His ability to jump back and forth between jittery and jubilant is part of what makes him so special.

“Aye Twin” is a standout collaboration, with Greedo and Key! building on the considerable chemistry they already displayed on “Keep Going” and “Buckhead.” Buddy even shows up for a love song that wouldn’t sound out of place on a K.R.I.T. project, wherein Greedo professes his desire for a woman who never even uses her couch because she’s so busy working around the clock.

Greedo’s love for Cash Money interpolations shines through on “Payback,” providing the inspiration for 03 to update the “Still Fly” refrain for a new generation. Ohgeesy’s verse serves as the proper complementary piece, his perma-dazed delivery bouncing off Greedo’s hook like they’d been rapping together for decades. Hot Boys may have been his NWA (his words, not mine) but Big Tymers clearly hold a special place in his heart too.

His 800 song catalog has now taken on a mythic quality and mostly remains behind lock and key (free Project T-Pain) but this is the most compelling work to be released to the general public post-God Level (with apologies to Mustard and Travis Barker). While Mustard was able to provide Greedo with some production that worked to his benefit and “Cellout” was a pleasant surprise, there was never a sense that the whole had become more than the sum of its parts in either instance. It felt more like Greedo thumbing through their Pro Tools files and letting the chips fall where they may.

On the other hand, Netflix and Deal often feels as if you are channel surfing with Greedo himself by your side. Kenny’s production allows Greedo to find all sorts of interesting pockets, bouncing between rapping and singing with the sort of zeal that’s reserved for his best work. The blend is seamless, to the point where even Freddie Gibbs sounds like an extension of Greedo. Just try not to grin when you realize that its not actually Greedo harmonizing on “Disco Shit.”

Odd Couple may not be the first movie that you think of when you consider the Greedo and Kenny pairing but its a hard comparison to avoid. The shared genius of the Greenwich-raised ex-EDM producer and a Watts street legend serves as the connective tissue for a modern day Beverly Hills Cop remake. While there are not a lot of rappers who would evoke Honey I Shrunk The Kids, Avatar, Blow, Paid In Full and Soul Food within the same project, those who have been watching every installment of the Greedo franchise will not be the least bit surprised by his eclectic taste.

The varied choices in film speak to Greedo’s personality. Soul Food explores the love for hardworking women evident throughout his catalog, while Blow and Maria, Full of Grace are extensions of traphouse Greedo. When he says he had to grind and you never had to on Traffic, it isn’t an idle boast. It is easy to see what a once homeless Greedo saw in someone like Ace Boogie or Money Mitch, honest men from humble backgrounds who simply wanted to provide a better life for themselves and their loved ones.

Meanwhile, his absurdist sense of humor shines through on “Honey, I Shrunk The Kids” and the Avatar-referencing “Blue People.” He even manages to turn an extended metaphorical riff on Brad Pitt’s filmography into one of the best songs that the project has to offer. It’s not often that a one-off producer/artist collaboration is able to serve as such a powerful window into both of their worldviews but Netflix and Deal is the rarest of collaborations: a project that is borne out of shared love, instead of a desire to tap into each other’s market shares.

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