Welcome back to Mixtape Saturday, a weekly roundup of great rap tapes around the web hosted by FADER contributor Meaghan Garvey. This week, she talks about I.L Will at his most streamlined, GOD's nuanced take on "Chiraq," Boss Shit Only's Atlanta-Chicago split, and Cashy's woozy Trap Lord impression.
I.L Will, Problem Child, February 3, 2014
I.L Will, a third of Chicago's M.I.C. crew (along with Lil Chris and Mikey Dollaz), has had issues with quantity versus quality in the past. He released two pretty bloated tapes last year, along with a steady stream of loosies, and it always seemed that if he could consolidate his best work onto one tape, it'd show his real promise. Problem Child does exactly that: it's a manageable 13 tracks, very few of which feel like filler. He's rapping better than ever, evoking Lil Bibby's mode of lyrical oriented drill with interspersed bits of bubbly yet tough-talking bop (thanks to a grip of tracks produced by Cicero On Da Beat, one of bop's foremost beatmakers). It's I.L's best solo mixtape yet.
Highlights: "Problem Child Intro" is a showcase for the usually unshowy rapper's lyrical chops—it might be the hardest I've heard him rap ever. "Momma I Made It" is a celebratory bit of brassy slo-mo bop.
Various Artists, Boss Shit Only (Hosted by Rich Kidz), January 30, 2014
This is the second Atlanta-to-Chicago compilation in almost as many weeks, highlighting the symbiotic relationship between the two biggest cities in street rap. Rich Kidz host, and the handful of recent-ish offerings from them are strong: twerk-friendly "Touch Yo Toes" and a couple highlights from A Westside Story. But the standouts here are from some of Chicago's brightest. Tink gets extra gritty in "Undelay," Sasha Go Hard sounds energized on "Make A Move" (both songs are exclusive to the tape), and "Pull Up" is a return to pre-Finally Rich form for Chief Keef. Also featured are appearances from SD, Jose Guapo, Migos, Peewee Longway, King Louie and more.
Highlights: Casino carries on his penchant for elaborate, food-themed drug-dealing metaphors on "Pizza Man." Lil Durk and OTF Nunu team up for one of my favorite songs of the year, the triumphant "At the Top," essentially a deliriously positive version of Lil Reese's "Us."
WTF: We're now on the third, slightly altered version of "Out My Face": originally a Rich Homie Quan track featuring Thug, then a Thug track featuring Quan with a borrowed Future verse, now a Thug track featuring Rocky Diamonds. (The first one remains the best.)
GOD, Before The Bible, January 30, 2014
There's not much information to be found on Chicago's latest self-deifying rapper, the enigmatic GOD. But for a relative newcomer (Before The Bible is just his second EP), his style is remarkably distinct, his sound almost fully realized. In only six tracks, he balances young Chicago's cagey, gut-driven nihilism; an ear for dark, sparse beats that add to his mythos; some pretty nimble lyricism and a keen sense of self. With almost superhuman omniscience (*slaps knee*), he simultaneously critiques the ills of his city and his own contributions to them: Clapping at everything moving, I get a rush from the action/ This ain’t no movie, these youngins really be busting these uzis/ They don’t know how to read but they be toting them toolies, he raps on “Chiraq II.”
Highlights: It's not often that a piece of music makes me drop everything I'm trying to multitask and do nothing but listen. "God vs Devil" is that gripping: GOD masters a less-is-more flow with fallen-angel fervor over eerie goth-Nutcracker Suite keys.
WTF: PSA to rappers: Just say no to ReverbNation! Please just cop the Pro Soundcloud and never look back!
Cashy, Platinum Plus, January 22, 2014
Cashy is a Miami rapper who has emerged from seemingly nowhere to remind us that Florida rappers aren't all like this, even when their names sound like the first Maybach Music Beanie Baby. The A$AP Ferg comparison is unavoidable—unhinged, choppy Bone-Thugs-lite cadences—but Cashy's twangier, with a flair for catchy non sequitors somewhere between Migos and ZMoney, and a sort of soothing basicness (in a good way!) a la Soulja Boy. Speaking of whom, the entire tape (a wisely concise seven tracks) is produced by Purp Dogg, of "We Made It" fame, and it shows: like "We Made It," the beats here are elegant but a little fucked up, drunkenly lurching towards zen.
Highlights: "Stupendous" is the tape's catchiest moment, with Purp doing his best Zaytoven imitation and Cashy channelling Birdman.
WTF: Halfway through "Wrong Way," Cashy's sing-song squeak hints at a frightening future where they do Mickey Mouse like they did the Cheerio's bee.