Featured Mixtape: Action Bronson x Party Supplies – Blue Chips
Rap music has always been a sum of its characters, and in Action Bronson the genre has found its ginger-bearded, overweight Albanian American chef with a nostalgic, New York flow. Since breaking on to the scene last summer with his impressive debut Dr Lectar, Bronson has been both prolific and consistent, sweeping aside early criticisms of his unfortunate vocal similarity to Ghostface Killah. It’s down to his substantial talent and sheer hard work that this is no longer an issue, and Bronson has become a guy that everybody wants to support.
Blue Chips, then, sees Bronsonlinho team up with Fools Gold’s Party Supplies on a retro, 80s inspired mixtape. Just as we found with Killer Mike, Bronson’s decision to work on one rapper / one producer projects seem to bring out the best in him. There’s a certain energy created by this collaborative way of working, and as if afraid of losing that, Blue Chips is written on the spot with samples straight from YouTube and vocal slip-ups left in for all to see. This approach serves the mixtape well; so when Bronson botches the very first bar on the tape’s opening track, or muddles his words three times on ‘9-24-11’, it feels intimate, like we’re all in the room watching him goof off at work. Elsewhere Bronson is on his usual humorous form, squeezing in ample food references and even managing to squeeze in a Ruud Van Nistlerooy rhyme. I can always go for more Dutch football punchlines in my rap music, and Blue Chips delivers that and much, much more.
Stalley – Savage Journey to the American Dream
I’d hardly be the first to mention that Stalley is an unlikely fit for Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group, but it’s an important point. The Ohio emcee’s articulate, everyman hip hop is a far cry from the label’s last outing, Ross’ ode to wealth; Rich Forever. Nevertheless, Stalley is keen to assure fans that he hasn’t been led astray by the Maybach machine, declaring on the tape’s superb second track ‘Petrin Hill Peonies’: “Really I just want the pain to go / Money I ain’t aiming for / I just wanna lay low.” While Stalley’s smooth flow remains unchanged, his concepts do suffer slightly under the weight of expectation. Having said that, perhaps it’s important for Stalley to make his intentions clear while at mixtape stage, and it’s still a joy to hear him glide over these impressive, mostly Block Beattaz productions.
Zilla – Zilla Shit 2
Speaking of Block Beattaz, it’s been a busy month for the now 10-strong production stable, who also crafted all but one of the beats on the new Zilla mixtape. A year on from his breakthrough release Zilla Shit, the Huntsville, Alabama rapper is back with a sequel which manages to both consolidate and push on from its predecessor. Zilla slips between hardened street raps (‘Fuck U Mean’), woozy rhymes (‘Drank in My Cup’) and his difficult relationship with his father (‘Song Cry’), but the reliable as ever Block Beataz make these transitions appear almost seamless. With two accomplished tapes now in the bag, this guy will be worth keeping an eye on.
Boldy James – Consignment
Boldy James is another rapper returning after making an impressive debut last year, andConsignment: Favor For a Favor, the Redi-Rock Mixtape, to give the tape its full name, is another fully realised gem. James doesn’t do things by halves, and there are 26 tracks here spanning well over an hour which leaves plenty to get your head around. Thankfully the monotone Detroit rapper has plenty to say, and Consignment is not short on drug-selling stories to fill the space. His pragmatic descriptions of coke-dealing on the tape’s title track give the subject matter an almost routine familiarity, as he raps: “It’s enticing, just try it, everybody’s doing it I promise you I like it / Don’t fight it, hurry up and buy it, I went and threw it in the bag I knot it up and tie it”. It’s the stone cold realism with which James delivers lines like this that makes him such a magnetic character, leaving little to the imagination, but giving about as close a depiction of street life as rap music can possibly offer.
Capital STEEZ – AmeriKKKan Korruption
While the names Capital STEEZ and Joey Bada$$ meant absolutely nothing to me the other side of Christmas, a song like ‘Survival Tactics’ is one hell of a way to demand attention. Although one breakout track isn’t a lot to go on in rap terms, it hasn’t stopped keen eyes becoming locked on these two and placing high hopes on their Pro Era collective. STEEZ’sAmeriKKKan Korruption is their first release since the video dropped and it shows promise, while also doing a lot to place the group’s feet back safely on solid ground. Relying mostly on a collection of well-known indie-rap beats (Madvillain, MF DOOM, Atmosphere) it’s hardly the most adventurous mixtape by 2012’s standards, but through strong (if a little obvious) beat selection we get a clearer picture of what STEEZ is all about. The nature of this tape means there is no repeat of the headline grabbing ‘Survival Tactics’, but if AmeriKKKan Korruptiontells us anything it’s that STEEZ’s mature, classy flow is by no means a one-off. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be watching this space very closely.
Originally published at Drowned in Sound