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 Rico Love's slick reappropration, Little Pain's gimmick-free sad rap, Chase N Cashe's transition from producer to rapper, and Tyga's... existence.
Tyga, Well Done 4, December 9, 2013
Alright, Tyga can't really rap and is essentially devoid of charisma, but he's cornered the market on fun, innocuous party songs that you can enjoy without really having to pay any attention to whatsoever—which is a legitimate skill!—and Well Done 4 is full of those. I probably won't listen to 90 percent of them ever again. I literally have nothing else to say about this tape, other than that I'm feeling really uncomfortable that Chris Brown is the scene-stealer here.
Highlights: The tape's two slow-burning, ultra-sexy R&B tracks, "When To Stop" and "The Letter," making me question why Tyga doesn't just go full Omarion.
WTF: On his rappity-rappin' "Back 2 Basics," he claims Could've been the third member of the Clipse. Let's pump the brakes, buddy.
Rico Love, El Presidente, December 9, 2013
I first knew producer-turned-rapper Rico Love had the golden touch when I realized he'd produced Lloyd's "Year of the Lover" single; by the time he crafted Kelly Rowland's 2011 magnum opus "Motivation," I was his forever. As such, I was a little hesitant when I saw that his new tape, El Presidente, strictly showcased him as a rapper and vocalist, and primarily over borrowed beats at that. Turns out he's pulled off some Tim Vocals-style magic here, giving new life to hits both recent ("Shabba," Dom Kennedy's "My Type of Party," the latter of which I'd argue he vastly improves) and classic (Mario Winans' "I Don't Wanna Know," "Spottieottiedopalicious" and an incredible screwed version of "Throw Some D's"). At 11 easily digestible tracks, a couple of which are originals ("Main Bitches" is passable, "To My Ex" completely slaps), it's quick, breezy and relatively low-stakes, which lets Rico get playful. Granted, there's no "Motivation," but it shows he's totally competent at the helm of a track, not just behind the scenes.
Highlights: I don't give a fuck—I could listen to someone recite the alphabet over the "Paranoid" beat and it would still be flames; Rico flips it into a smarmy threesome story, and I couldn't be more down.
WTF: Over League of Starz' "I Don't Want Her" beat, Rico spits, That’s a cold play, I tell her fix you, and I slowly back away.
Little Pain, When Thugz Cry, December 11, 2013
I thought this year's rise of "sad rap" was a total joke up until lavishly du-ragged Brooklynite Little Pain's debut tape, When Thugz Cry. Internet-incubated niches of rap like #sadboys2003 have an annoying tendency towards disorienting layers of winks on winks on winks, wherein it's impossible to tell if it's all a joke or if the joke's that they're dead serious. Pain transcends all the meta-irony I'd assumed was implied here; there's actually no joke at all, aside, perhaps, from a few wisecracks to counter his blunt, unmasked depression narratives. Morose, rattling production from the likes of Suicideyear and Karman adds to the sensation of struggling to keep above water.
Highlights: "Cried Outro," produced by Karman and featuring Prada Mane, a wailing, 808's-talkbox-y swan song. "Got No Money," the tape's isolated but welcome moment of brightness.
WTF: Few things in life feel as tragic as crying into your laptop to a rap song about a childhood dog dying, and yet here we are.
Chase N Cashe, Cashe Rules, December 12, 2013
I'm convinced a five-song EP is the Platonic ideal strategy re: How To Make People Give A Shit About Your Rap Career. New Orleans-born Chase N Cashe, of Hit Boy's Surf Club collective, is known for his production (he's worked with Drake, Wayne, the damn Pussycat Dolls), but Cashe Rules, via Scion AV, is his latest attempt at crossing over to rapper, and he sounds more comfortable in front of the mic than ever. Okay—there aren't, like, bars for days here, but as far as producer-to-rapper transitions, Chase pulls it off commendably unawkwardly (better than his colleague Hit Boy, in my opinion). He's realized it's best to stick to the essentials: a breezy, noodly get-faded track ("Me And Mine"), a macho, bow-throwing trap number ("Act A Fool"), a ratchet party anthem ("D.U.I.T."), an emotional mission statement ("I Can Do That") and a wild card ("World Peace"). Boom. That's it. No filler. Should he quit his day job? Nah, probably not, but he's just about on to something here.
Highlights: League Of Starz can officially do no wrong: their production on the frenetic "D.U.I.T." is busier than their usual, but severely gas-face-inducing.