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Tape Adapter

Tape Adapter: September’s Hip Hop Mixtapes Reviewed By Gary Suarez
Gary Suarez , September 30th, 2015 06:59

Gary Suarez is back with all of the mixtape reviews that are fit to publish plus a closer look Future

There’s something different about Future now, and whatever it is, it makes us like him more than ever before. We haven’t seen his eyes since Honest, no doubt bloodshot or otherwise discoloured by the destructive hedonistic lifestyle he claims to lead on his recent tapes, stuffed with bawdy tales of degradation and total abuse befitting a young GG Allin. But boy howdy, are those some nifty songs.

While Nayvadius’ willingness to share so much of his depraved descent into lean madness has been eagerly received by his reinvigorated fanbase, the selfishness inherent in his lyrical content seems to extend to the oversight of his vanity label Freebandz. The absence of any Freeband Gang features is one of the most glaring omissions on Future’s DS2 and, to a lesser extent the highfalutin’ Drake infusion What A Time To Be Alive. Surely the rappers he’s purportedly touting on his label could’ve benefitted from some of that Nayvadius mojo. Young Scooter got a little shine on Beast Mode’s opening number, but that was way back in January. Casino and Mexico Rann would’ve robbed a bank together for a shared ‘Big Rings’ verse. At least DJ Esco got to dance a little in the ‘Where Ya At’ video.

At the official Freebandz website, you’ll have to dig pretty deep into the label’s blog before finding so much as a nugget about an artist other than Future. Elsewhere in the Artists section, there’s a single mention of Freeband Loyal, the new mixtape from the rechristened Lil Don Loyal. Compiling older tracks alongside newer ones, his fairly straightforward project opens with a context-free spoken introduction by Future ostensibly speaking highly of the artist formerly known as Lil Donald. From there, the tape moves along predictably with cuts for the party and cuts for the street.

Bubbling under for a minute now, Cassius Jay produces several cuts, including the bassbin rattling ‘Heeyy’ and the piano driven ‘Changed’. Apparently a Zaytoven discovery, the Atlanta trappist gives Lil Don most of the tape’s best instrumentals to spit over (‘Real N*a’, ‘Sleep’). Others, namely Stroud, provide the middling emcee with far less. Fortunately, some of Future’s go-to beatsmiths appear as well, namely Metro Boomin and the aforementioned Zaytoven. The former’s ‘Together’ snaps and hums with understated melody while the latter’s ‘I Promise’ sports a second-rate Rich Homie Quan cameo.

A few fellow sufferers join Lil Don on this rote albeit authentic trap affair. Casino keeps his trademark wheeze in check on ‘Streets Ain’t 4 Everybody’, while Yakki Divioshi - a Young Thug affiliate who didn’t make it onto Barter 6 or Slime Season - overperforms in the best way on ‘Good’. When Future deigns to appear properly on ‘I’m Sure Of It’, his too dope hook sets the mind reeling as to how much more he could’ve done to aid his boy’s tape.

Rick Ross - Black Dollar

The embattled Maybach Music chief executive’s first significant project of 2015 illustrates his state of mind from the get-go. Arresting opener ‘Foreclosures’ makes a veritable stone soup from Rick Ross’ hardships. Referencing everything from lopsided record deals to callow Twitter beefs, it sets a noticeably pensive tone for a full-length from a rapper prone to more shallow subject matter. This sad millionaire schtick proves less effective amid the tickled ivories of ‘Money Dance’. Mercifully, Rozay doesn’t spend too much time being miserable, telling us yet again about his predilection for expensive cars, designer clothes, and beautiful women (‘Beautiful Lie’, ‘Money And Powder’). Between the dusty tropes, gems occasionally sparkle, like when he accuses his namesake Freeway Ricky Ross of being an informant (‘Geechi Liberace’). Still, there’s something authentically celebratory about Meek Mill pairing ‘World’s Finest’ even though the beat sounds like Ja Rule circa 2001. Leave it to Rozay to give us this year’s dullest Future collab with ‘Take Advantage’.

Tyga - Fuk Wat They Talkin Bout

The third full-length project this year from the least pitied YMCMB prisoner, this tape comes less than three months after his DONDA-designed brick The Gold Album: 18th Dynasty. At this point, it’s fairly obvious that Tyga seeks to flood the market with every single track of his that Birdman rejected over the past 24 months. Why he’s doing so, however, remains a mystery for the ages. Regardless, this one stands apart from prior releases primarily due to his unhinged willingness to go where his peers have marginally enough taste not to. An emboldened pervert, Tyga’s absorbed so much heat for dating (now barely legal) Kylie Jenner that he figures now’s the time to try and spit some fire. Age-inappropriate tracks like ‘Ice Cream Man’ and the Robert Miles sampling ‘$timulated’ deliver maximum douche chills as he fixes his male gaze on the pubis of his teenage dream. In a genre where women are regularly treated like garbage, Tyga’s a creep’s creep.

Various Artists - TECH PALMS 3 : Struggle Before The Shyne

D.C.-based Goth Money Records reps a hazy sound that’ll appease the Raider Klan X Sad Boys set. Now if that last sentence made you feel some type of way, check yourself and your stilted rap elitism - especially if you slept on Marcy Mane’s excellent Gucci Lion tape from this past Spring. The label keeps dropping solid tapes of hypnagogic trap, and this latest compilation purportedly precedes a Halloween project. Following a ten minute intro of voicemail dump, Kane Grocerys and Luckaleannn present the dreamlike hazer ‘Boost Mobile’. They team up again a handful of times, including on the Marcy Mane assisted ‘Backwood Shawty’ and the immersive yet blippy ‘Texas Tea’. On Hunned Mil’s sole credited track ‘Ain’t Change’, he employs a slurred slurry flow. The track order (and titles) seems negligible though, and listening straight through creates a warm digital bath of murmurs and mumbles buoyed by beats of varying fidelity. Still there’s some lyricism lurking if you’re willing to listen (Kane Grocerys’ ‘No Hook’).

Young Thug - Slime Season

Up until now, Young Thug had fans thinking this would be a full-on London On Da Track showcase, following in the vein of Future tapes like Beast Mode. The final eighteen-track Slime Season features just five new tracks from the only beatmaker to give Thugger a platinum hit to date. The best of these, ‘Again’ reteams him with Gucci Mane over a woozy R&B-esque beat. Barter 6 familiars help fill in the production gaps, with superior results over last time. Ricky Racks’ ‘Best Friend’ matches the mania and madness of its Malkovich Malkovich music video with crafty vocal melodies and an almost weepy chorus, while Goose employs a bright neon sonic palate for the peppy ‘That’s All’. Otherwise, Wondagurl brings her A-game as usual with ‘Freaky’, with Thugger contorting his voice to contend with its rubbery trap snaps. Given his beef with Lil Wayne, there’s something supremely petty about opening with ‘Take Kare’, their 2014 joint dud single.

BONUS: One Hitters:

Chief Keef - Almighty DP 2 After two separate lacklustre Bang 3 instalments, the arrival of this year’s second DP Beats set raises further questions as to whether or not Sosa is, figuratively speaking, out of gas.

Drake & Future - What A Time To Be Alive Soundtracked nearly to the point of monotony by producer Metro Boomin, two of 2015’s most omnipresent hip hop artists phone it in while cashing in off of their oft duelling, respective fanbases.

Key! - Screaming Dreams Prelude Gearing up for a formal release, this hooky five song teaser shows that the Atlanta artist is more than ready for the next level.

Rich Homie Quan - DTSpacely Made This Recycling old mixtapes cuts with a few fresher ones, the Rich Gang alum’s producer-centric showcase serves as a vestigial part of an otherwise essential discography.

Skippa Da Flippa - Flippa McFadden Migos affiliate and spitfire spitter drops ten breezy trap cuts far more enjoyable than most of what Quality Control Music has been doling out lately.