Monday, February 11, 2013

Mixtape Review: 'New Jet City' (Grade: B+)

Over the last several years I've developed a keen appreciation for the chameleonic skill set of Currensy, "the hot spitta". The corky and clever personality of Spitta has manifest in the 32-year-old veteran's extensive body of work, typically incorporating retro movie and car references to endorse his essentially antique ambience. For this his 15th project since 2011, the prolific emcee draws from the 1991 notorious crime film New Jack City, providing listeners with his typical vintage braggadocio for a mixtape that best equates to sitting through a 70's gangster film. For this 'New Jet City', Spitta masterfully blends his retro approach with the modern sound, including an assortment of features, making for yet another consistently polished and thorough piece of work from the best "weed rapper" in the game.

The first voice we hear on the "New Jet City" intro song is that of Nino Brown, the New York City crime lord played by Wesley Snipes in the '91 film, toasting to the "entrepreneur spirit" and "the new American dream", a fitting segue for Currensy's "high quality rhymes" about waving champagne cases on yachts and "surviving in the game where many don't win". The other four solo Spitta tracks deliver trademark material as well. "Living for the City" brings the soul and the signature effortless one-verse-wonder from Spitta beginning with, "peanut butter leather". We enjoy the same mellow eloquence from "Sixteen Switches" and "Moe Chettah", the former a brief interlude of boastful car talk, the latter more focused on Spitta's addiction to money with solid production from Theopilus London. As one would expect, "Mary" is dedicated to wake-and-bake weed raps and even an experimental hurry-up flow where Spitta's "zooming in and out of lanes".

'New Jet City' isn't defined by it's features, as noted in how strongly Currensy made his presence felt on his five solo ventures. The other nine songs do succeed at sustaining the experience, starting with "Clear", the jazzy cut with bass guitar riffs and fainted horns, credit to producer Statik Selektah. Jadakiss joins Spitta as the two make certain claims "as clear as my windows". Fellow Jet Life affiliate Trademark the Skydiver appears on "Coolie in the Cut", the Lex Luger produced banger fit for Currensy to begin, "I got my California weed and my New York b*tch" and a hook from Trademark making the song truly anthem worthy. Luger gives Spitta more to work with on "Choosin", as he's joined by former "Superhigh" associates Wiz Khalifa and Rick Ross, a trio that struggles to disappoint.

Reaching out to French Montana for "These Bitches" was a genius move. Serenaded by saxophones and vocals from a 1986 Alexander O'Neal sample, the song reminds listeners of Spitta's New Orleans roots and French's instinctive ability to create a monster hook. Perhaps the two biggest surprise features are Juvenile and Juicy J, making their seasoned presences known on "Bitch Get Up" and "Three 60". It also intrigued to see the man responsible for popping mollies and sweating (Trinidad James) appear on "Purple Haze" with Spitta and vocalist Lloyd. Not one of the most notable tracks on the tape, but  smooth and listenable enough to fit in the mold. Currensy was gracious enough to allow his other Jet Life partner Young Roddy exclusively and appropriately conclude the tape with "New Program". With this 'New Jet City' tape, Spitta has successfully reminded hip-hop why he's still the underground legend, the mixtape king, the retro visionary, the hot spitta, and probably the coolest cat in the game.

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