Mixtape Saturday: Gucci Mane, Key!, Audio Push, Chief Keef

September 14, 2013

Welcome to Mixtape Saturday, a weekly roundup of great rap tapes around the web hosted by FADER contributor Meaghan Garvey. This week, she talks about Gucci's post-meltdown freebie, Audio Push's rejection of their past, compares Key! to Andrew Bird and waits for Chief Keef. Read more and download the tapes after the drop.

Gucci Mane, Diary of a Trap God, September 11th, 2013

Unless you you've been hiding under a rock this week (or, like, have a social life) you already know Guwop had a manic Twitter meltdown and severed ties with his label before releasing what was intended as an iTunes album for free. I'm equally skeptical of fetishizing mental instability and putting one's sexual partners on blast, so I think it's best to avoid analysis of Gucci's mental state entirely and stick to the tape itself: It's actually quite good. Gucci's projects have become the walls at which producers can toss their weirdest ideas and see what sticks, and Honorable C Note, Zaytoven, Drumma Boy, Southside, and the rest of Diary’s A-list production roster are definitely having fun here. (See: C Note's geeked-up MIDI freakout on "High Power Cowards.") And as with most of Gucci's 2013 releases, Diary is significantly bolstered by its featured rappers, who'll hopefully continue speaking to Gucci after this week: Young Thug, Young Dolph, Young Scooter, and Peewee Longway are predictably enjoyable, and Waka's two verses are some of his strongest this year. What's most interesting here content-wise is "Me," produced by Mike WiLL Made It. In the context of this week, it's a declaration of independence, with Gucci using hyper-narcissism as a defense mechanism against his total distrust of everyone around him.

Highlights: Gucci repeating "Pablo" approximately 200 times in his "Holmes" voice on "Pablo." Waka's life-giving verse on "Nights Like This." The out-of-nowhere pop perfection of Akon's hook (and Scooter's accompanying Yea bitch it's me! ad-libs) on "Recognize."

WTF: Marilyn fucking Manson raps about cameltoes. I repeat, Marilyn Manson. Raps. About cameltoes. And if that doesn't completely melt your brain, Gucci follows it up by saying he wants to fuck your knee.

Key!, Fathers Are the Curse, September 11th, 2013

Before this release, I didn't know much about Key!, member and co-founder of Atlanta collective Two9, outside of his undeniable, self-produced ode to infidelity "Guess Who." I think I avoided him because of the exclamation point at the end of his name and the fact that his last EP was a reference to Kid Cudi, neither of which are indicative of how dope and not corny Key! actually is. Suffice to say, this tape (which follows up last year's Mothers Are The Blame) is a supremely pleasant surprise. The production is stellar—featuring big names like FKi and Sonny Digital along with frequent collaborator Trap Money Benny and lots from Key! himself—and strikes a perfect balance between "artsy" flourishes (trumpet flares, strings, piano rolls) and more standard southern tracks for all your elbow-throwing needs ("Trap Money," "Free Waffles 2" and, of course, "Guess Who"). There are a lot of similarities here to Rome Fortune's incredible Beautiful Pimp tape from February—both rappers successfully represent their ties to Atlanta street music while indulging their art school urges, hitting that ineffable sweet spot that appeals to both gangsters and hipsters and somehow isn't too try-hard.

Highlights: "Guess Who." FKi's "All Of That (Interlude)" and "I Like." The latter sounds like Andrew Bird trapping out the bando.

WTF: Is that a wistful meow sampled on "Recoup"? It works.

Audio Push, Come As You Are, September 9th, 2013

Audio Push, fresh off their supporting role on Lil Wayne's summer tour, attempt total reinvention with their new tape, executive produced by Hit-Boy. (The duo is signed to his HS87 imprint.) The goal here is to make the world forget that their first single was "Teach Me How To Jerk," because, you know, regional dance trends are totally crass and disposable compared to Real Rap Of Substance. The title track literally spells it out: I hate when people bring up "Teach Me How To Jerk"/ Cause now my lyrics murk. The logical flaw here is that "Teach Me How To Jerk" is awesome. To be fair, it's totally understandable when young artists are embarrassed of their older work. But this tape, which overflows with high-profile features including Wayne, T.I. and Wale, feels like an overcompensation, bending over backwards to be taken seriously. "Brown Bag" has an awkward fake-deep spoken word verse, "Tis The Season" has gratuitous ODB samples and an attempt at gruffness from Joey Bada$$. "Turn Down," "Rowdy" and "Told You So" blatantly ride Kendrick's coattails. Audio Push have their moments, mostly with club-friendly fare—"Theme Song" with T.I. and "Club 380" are bangers—but they're still figuring out who they are.

Highlights: "Smack" featuring Ty Dolla $ign and Iamsu! is effortless, Mustard-y perfection; It's no coincidence that it's also the logical organic evolution of the groups' jerkin past.

WTF: "Rowdy" opens with the declaration I am very high and very drunk. Cool, bros.

Chief Keef, Almighty So, No release date

Yesterday I watched the countdown on Hot New Hip Hop for Almighty So to drop for over two hours. Nothing came; it's been pushed back indefinitely and Keef's been issued an arrest warrant for missing a child support hearing—effectively ordering him to jail. Typical, Sosa. The tape will follow up last month's Bang Part 2, a super-sloppy offering. The hope is that Bang Part 2 was just the scraps, and Almighty So will be more thoughtfully arranged and not recorded on, like, Tadoe's iPhone. I'm guessing it will feature previously released tracks like "Macaroni Time" and "Go To Jail," Keef's two best songs this year, and more of Keef's explorations into Rosetta Stone: Swaghili edition. What's really important here, though, is "Emojis," a single Keef's been teasing for over a month, even releasing the artwork (which belongs in the Louvre). There's a looped snippet of the song on YouTube, and even with the horrible quality, its promise is clear. Please, Sosa, pay your child support. It's the decent thing to do, and the world needs "Emojis," now more than ever.

From The Collection:

Mixtape saturday
Mixtape Saturday: Gucci Mane, Key!, Audio Push, Chief Keef