Stack Bundles is another mixtape artist who’s trying to translate his prodigious skill at murdering other people’s songs (and murdering people in songs) into something resembling a music career. Bundles is a perfect example of how mixtapes can provide musical kicks that simply aren’t possible on a commercially released album. There are no budget constraints, no samples to clear—on a mixtape your choice of producers is only limited by your imagination. In 2003, over some of Jay-Z’s hardest Black Album beats—“PSA” and “99 Problems”—a barely drinking-age Bundles used DJ Clue’s mixtapes like When Animals Attack to give Hov a run for his money. Bundles rhymed over the Just Blaze and Rick Rubin-produced tracks like he paid for them. Whether it was coke speak (“I was guilty for starting the drought/ I held the water like the Hoover Dam”) or fashion trend analysis (“It’s far from summer/ And Jay’s got these dickheads running around in colorful button-downs/ Fuckin clowns”), his was a triumph of formalism. Everybody was saying that shit—he just said it better.
Bundles is one of the mixtape circuit’s true wolves, hopping on every hot beat as soon as he can, blowing holes in other people’s tracks. But listening to his flammable verses doesn’t begin to suggest who the enigmatic man behind the music really is. Bundles is a burly, excitable dude who has a magnetic force about him. He can be gruff, talking about his hood rep one second, and then sensitively sharing his feelings about Lupe Fiasco and Joe Budden (two MCs he adores) the next. He’s earnest, funny and emotional. But for the most part, on mixtapes, he plays the part of the superthug. Bundles, who is affiliated with DJ Clue’s Desert Storm crew but rolls as a free agent, struggles with the limitations of the format. “I was a song MC,” he says. “I love to tell my story. But I got with Clue, and he’s the outlet to the streets.” That piece of luck has also hamstrung some of his evolution as an artist. “People fall victim to this idea like if you’re tough, you don’t cry,” he says. “But shit gets deep, you know? I cry. Or if you’re tough you ain’t fly. I get fly! I think I’m flyer then Kanye!”
For now Bundles patiently waits. “My next mixtape is called Bidding War because that’s what it is,” Bundles says. “If you call yourself hip-hop and you have ears, you’re feeling the kid.” Nonetheless he remains unsigned. When Bundles throws darts on tracks like, “Everybody talking about trying to bring it home/ When all you hear on the radio is, ‘Who? Mike Jones!’” you can sense exasperation at the state of New York’s place in the game, and some resignation to the fact that in order to beat Mike Jones, or at least get to his level, Bundles will have to embrace what made Jones popular.