Mixtape Saturday: Tink, Johnny May Cash, LA Leakers, Strap

January 18, 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 Tink and Johnny May Cash coming into their own, Travis Porter's Strap striking out on his own, and the LA Leaker's predictions for 2014.

Tink, Winter's Diary 2, January 10, 2014

We already know: Tink excels at both rapping and singing—she has been steadily improving at both over her five tapes in the last couple of years. I've always been most compelled by her singing; her debut, 2012's Winter's Diary, had me shocked. Sex-positive, emotionally mature songs, from a then-16 year old? On that tape's long-awaited sequel, Tink does her casually beguiling, how the fuck did this girl get so grown-and-sexy thing better than ever on tracks like "Dirty Slang" and "HML." She also dives headfirst into less-is-more, acoustic R&B, like a Lauryn Hill for the Noah "40" Shebib set. "Treat Me Like Somebody" and "Lullaby" are understated, raw and devastatingly grown. This week on Twitter, I heard Tweet's first album, 2002's grievously underrated Southern Hummingbird, referenced as a spiritual older sister of Tink's new direction. I think that's an apt comparison, particularly for tracks like "Drunk" and "Smoking Cigarettes." I'd call this Tink's best tape yet.

Highlights: "HML" is her sexiest song to date, and "Treat Me Like Somebody" her realest.

WTF: Tink's occasional Gucci Mane-via-Sean Connery pronunciation of S's is endearing as all fuck.

Johnny May Cash, Death Row, January 10, 2014

Johnny May Cash, Young Chop's IRL brother and master of Auto-Tune tough-talk, didn't quite live up to his own promise in 2013. His debut tape, Paranoid, felt rushed, and failed to produce anything as catchy as 2012's massive "Codeine." But on his new tape, Death Row, Cash finally comes into his own. He's realized his strong suit: in essence, he's not exactly a rapper but rather a singer of drill music, a not-distant relative to Lil Durk's hyper-melodic bluster. He's not the only one shining; as ever, Young Chop's contributions—he produced five of the tape's ten songs, and that's disregarding the mysterious "Chop Squad" credits on two more tracks—are an indispensable part of what makes May Cash great. The brothers have an inimitable chemistry together—Chop's beats sound expensive here.

Highlights: The tape is bookended by two of my favorite Chop beats in months, "What I Did" and "Bank Roll." Simultaneously maximal and gentle, they're flecked with Baroque adornments and hints of bop's brightness.

WTF: He slipped not getting at least one Suge Knight drop.

LA Leakers, The 2014 Draft Picks, January 13, 2014

Draft Picks is an annual compilation of exclusive material from up-and-coming all-stars, hand-picked by the LA Leakers, the power duo of DJs/radio personalities DJ Sour Milk and Justin Credible. Some of this year's picks reek of (admittedly understandable) LA favoritism; it's hard to picture Kid Ink and Luke Christopher ever having the same kind of relevance as Migos or Iamsu! Regardless, there's a handful of solid new material here, from Atlanta's Que (arguably the most sure to ascend in 2014), Joey Fatts (he interpolates OutKast), Migos (with a fairly bizarre Sean Kingston feature) and some fun Mustard-wave tracks from Jay 305 and Skeme. Key beats from League Of Starz, TeeFlii and Iamsu!

Highlights: Que's "Side Hustle," an emotionally #honest, bittersweet ode to the side chick, is further proof that the guy can't make a bad song.

WTF: Audio Push rhymes "Adobe" with "[Manu] Ginobili" with "emojis," in the Drake punchline flow.

Strap, All In 2, January 14, 2014

Strap aka Strap Da Fool, one third of longstanding Atlanta group Travis Porter, strikes out on his own for All In 2, the sequel to last year's All In. In the past couple years, Travis Porter have gotten grittier, gravitating away from the giddy hits that once dominated Atlanta strip club swag rap, and Strap's solo work follows suit. There's a mind-boggling 29 tracks here; skip ahead to the last third for gorgeous stuff like "Geekin" and "Stiff," and the surprise smooth jazz number "W.H.Y." Among those bright spots there are plenty of misses, rapped over one-note Zaytoven-lite beats. I miss the sound of all three of Travie's members' voices singing in unison, and think Strap could do with taking a note from the book of fellow Travis Porter member Travie member Quez, who released a better pared-down tape recently.

Highlights: "Nasty Dancer" has FKi throwing a million seemingly discordant things at the wall: a 90's diva-house vocal hook, Backstreet Boys-meets-Montell Jordan husky background harmonies, raunchy Ty Dolla $ign and Beyonce references, a plodding, ratchet-on-opiates beat. It's definitely the tape's weirdest track but, against all odds, it works.

WTF: I pray Strap fleshes out a specific line from "Ride For Me" into its own song: She turned up the feng shui could be the next "Turn My Swag On." (The song also, why not, appears on the tape twice.)

From The Collection:

Mixtape saturday
Mixtape Saturday: Tink, Johnny May Cash, LA Leakers, Strap