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Mixtape Saturday: 2 $ Fabo, L’A Capone, ZMoney, Test

January 11, 2014

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 2$ Fabo's miraculous comeback, OTF's tribute to slain member L'A Capone, ZMoney's productivity and how Test translates the Freebandz sound for Baltimore.

2$ Fabo, We Amongst U, January 7, 2014

I'm envisioning an influx of writing in the wake of former D4L member (and ringleader) Fabo's wild new tape, We Amongst U, late-pass explaining how D4L and their late '90s/early '00s snap music compatriots are the possible originators of DJ Mustard's sparse, ratchet sound. But Fabo's return—seemingly out of nowhere, though he did appear for a bright moment on Trinidad Jame$' 10pc Mild tape last year—is hardly in line with the understated sounds of the West Coast he may have shaped. On the contrary: this shit is legitimately bonkers in the best possible way. He's as goofy as he was a decade ago, throwing his deep voice all over the place, gobbling drugs with reckless abandon and hollering about launching himself into space. Meanwhile, he's surrounded by extraterrestrial synths and bombastic horns. (There are also gentle moments, like "My Planet," a straight-up lullaby). Far from out of his element after all these years, Fabo blends hints of EDM, a bit of saccharine boppiness, ATLien soul and snap's stubborn dedication to the turn up. So far, it's the most fun mixtape of 2014.

Highlights: "Krazy Bout That Money" is nothing short of ecstatic, a twinkling, Nard & B-reminiscent production over which Fabo delivers the most impassioned love letter to cash I've ever heard. It feels like hearing "The World's Greatest" for the first time. It makes me want to do better.

WTF: D.A.D. is the best new rap name of the year, especially thanks to his feature on a skit titled "Not Again Dad."

L'A Capone, Separate Myself, January 6, 2014

L'A Capone, the Chicago rapper and member of Lil Durk's OTF (Only The Family) crew, didn't see his first mixtape to its release; it was compiled posthumously after the 17 year old was shot and killed outside a studio in September. (Capone appeared in WorldStarHipHop's recent documentary on Chicago rap and violence, The Field, grinning as he said about rap: "We like this shit. It’s fun, really.") The circumstances are heartbreaking regardless of Capone's talent, but it's apparent here that he was easily OTF's best rapper aside from Durk. Among affiliates like Durk, RondoNumbaNine, Edai and more, Capone shines; his flow recalling Durk's "52 Bars" series; he pulls off brighter, boppier tracks like "Some More" and "We Up" with equal ease. Separate Myself is a poignant tribute to a friend gone too soon, but it's also just a fucking great tape.

Highlights: "Play For Keeps," featuring Rondo, was Capone's best chance at a break-out single, but the tape standout is "Brothers," a bittersweet homage to crew love, its sung hook repeating I'm here with my brothers, only each other.

WTF: It's hard to stomach Capone's certainty when he claims One day I'ma be a star/ One day I'ma drive them cars with them four doors on "So Loud."

ZMoney Presents: The Mobb Tape, January 8, 2014

Prolific Chicago rapper ZMoney, who released two excellent tapes on the same day in 2013 and followed them with a steady stream of singles and videos, starts 2014 off true to form with a 20-track compilation of new work from himself and his 4Ever Paid Nation affiliates. I'd expected the tape to be primarily a showcase for ZMoney surrounded by a bunch of filler from his lesser-known peers—Country Cool, Lil Boss Polo, KO the King, Bankroll Shorty, Brick Fare, YB—but it's far from the case. There are some strong new ZMoney songs here—particularly the sing-songy "Fast Money," which reminds me of Young Thug's 2011 I Came From Nothing tape—but the standout moments actually come from the bench. I'm particularly psyched to hear more from Bankroll Shorty and Brickfare, both of whom balance rags-to-riches contemplation and giddy stunting on their tracks. (I'd also like to congratulate tape hosts DJ Victoriouz, DJ Amaris, and DJ Bandz for their relatively innocuous drops. Mixtape DJs—Drama, I'm looking at you—take note.

Highlights: Bankroll Shorty's "Get Up Out The Hood," an optimistic number that sounds like a long-lost Young Chop and Sinjin Hawke collaboration. Brickfare and Lil Boss Polo's "Flex Out," a jubilant anthem which supports my theory that there's never been a bad rap song featuring steel drums.

WTF: "Mexico" is almost like a parody of what backpackers hate about rap of the last year with its Migos-esque "my plug is from Mexico" theme and repetition of "trap, trap, trap, trap, trap" for a good 20 seconds.

Test, Crabs & Blow, January 7, 2014

Freebandz' token Baltimore representative Test dropped his debut project for the imprint. The first ten tracks drag, but halfway through it finally becomes clear what Test adds to the Freebandz roster. The trio of "Get Out My Way," "Wut I'm Spose To Do" and "Gifts & The Curse" have it all: pain-in-my-heart wailing, shimmering but unobtrusive production and thoughtful came-from-nothing storytelling. This line has been stuck in my head all day: Coming up you had a Gameboy, and me I had a scale, that's the difference right there. Between more generic stuff, Test has tucked in some striking, personal passages. There's a lot of mediocrity to wade through, but it's worth it for gem lines like Smoke a blunt, put on another chain, and tell myself I'm successful, fuck what they think, from "Wut I'm Spose To Do."

Highlights: "Get Out My Way" (the video for which dropped alongside the tape) is the tape's most quintessentially Freebandz moment—over-the-top, emotionally evocative Auto-Tune reminiscent of Future's pained falsetto on "Honest."

WTF: The mixtape title sounds like a PSA from Planned Parenthood, I'm just being honest.

Mixtape Saturday: 2 $ Fabo, L’A Capone, ZMoney, Test