Mixtape Saturday: Zuse, Matti Baybee, Doe B, King Deazel

Mixtape Saturday: FADER contributor Meaghan Garvey rounds up last week’s great mixtapes, including Matti Baybee, Doe B, Zuse, and King Deazel.

April 05, 2014

Welcome back to Mixtape Saturday, a weekly roundup of great rap tapes around the web hosted by The FADER's contributor Meaghan Garvey. This week, she talks about Matti Baybee growing up without compromising his integrity, Zuse briding the gap between dancehall and young Atlanta, King Deazel branching out from bop, and remembering Doe B.

Matti Baybee, Young Legend 2, April 1, 2014

The whole "Chief Keef's little cousin" thing was a fun selling point for a while, but I think going forward, it's time to let it drop: 16-year-old rapper (and more often, singer of rap songs) Matti Baybee has very little musical common ground with his GBE relatives. His first tape, Young Legend, was one of my favorite Chicago releases of last year: a sweet but not sappy collection of Autotune-saturated teenage flexes (shopping, girls) that turned out to be fairly prescient about the then-blossoming bop movement. There were tougher tracks, too—never quite drill, and without cursing or violence—but they felt less essential, at least at the time. On its sequel, Matti seems to bristle at being designated "sweet"; on "312 (Intro)," the rappin'-ass, chest-beating follow-up to the last tape's "773," he rails against blogs who insinuated he was "Disney." Even though he seems ages older here, and with more to prove, he's still completely himself: it's still melody over everything, even though the overt boppiness is significantly toned down, and the subject matter is still fairly PG by Chicago standards (though at least now he can talk about driving). The real signifier of how much he's grown over the past year is his newfound knack for understated, sincere love songs (and choosing this instead of gratuitous tough talk speaks volumes about his precocious maturity); his professed love for r&b shines through more than ever, and he's really damn good at it.

Highlights: "Somebody," an effortless, Aaliyah-referencing r&b number over an elegantly sexy, almost Baroque production from Marley336. King Louie's prominent features—he's on three tracks, including the excellent remix of last year's "Brag," and he complements Matti far more fittingly than Keef would have (he's got a similar knack for making love songs feel sincere but never saccharine).

WTF: To the person who inspired Told me stop using Autotune, but I got a million views so boy it's working on "I Remember": your opinions are forever invalid.

Doe B, Definition Of A Trapper 3, April 1, 2014

I won't mince words: it sucks that Doe B is gone. (He was killed, along with a friend, at an Alabama club late last year.) The 22 year old was the best thing out of Montgomery, Alabama; I can't fully get behind this claim, but it's worth noting that T.I. (Doe B's label boss at Grand Hustle) referred to him as "the Southern Biggie" to Jay Z. D.O.A.T. 3, his posthumous album (I've considered it a mixtape for these purposes, but an extended version is for sale on iTunes), isn't quite as good as his excellent 2013 Baby Jesus tape (if you missed it at the time, get on that post-haste), but it's a worthwhile tribute regardless. Most of all, it captures what was so hypnotizing about his style: a combination of super-contemplative, pain-filled storytelling and a purposefully blasé delivery (occasionally nodding towards Gucci, particularly on Zaytoven-produced "Trappin' Made It Happen"), resulting in a perfect balance of heart and muscle. He was a bad-ass that wasn't afraid to have feelings, with a lack of posturing that felt unexpectedly refreshing.

Highlights: Sadly, the ultimate stop-in-your-tracks moment is only available on the iTunes version (though you can stream it here); it's a gorgeous track even without context, but given the circumstances, Doe's plaintive Lord, when I die, give me bulletproof wings is absolutely haunting.

WTF: "10 Freaky Girls" is weirdly prescient of another thematically similar recent song, though it's indebted to Big Daddy Kane rather than Too $hort.

King Deazel, The Campaign, April 1, 2014

Chicago's King Deazel recently came on my radar as the one name I wasn't previously familiar with on DJ Moondawg's We Invented The Bop compilation. His inclusion among the bop scene's relative incumbents initially seemed suspect, but it turned out he could hang: "Crackin" in particular was on par with many of the tape's heavy hitters. The Campaign follows up 2013's Hood Forbes tape, and shows a versatility I wouldn't have expected based off his bop tracks. Deazel runs the gamut from lyrically-inclined drill to Autotune-heavy macho-r&b (again, not unlike Louie's gentler moments) to the requisite bop stuff, which plays a smaller role than I'd imagined. The biggest surprise here is that he's a much more agile lyricist than I initially gave him credit for; check "50's and 100's" for proof.

Highlights: "Leave The Game," the tape's most expensive-sounding number, channeling Deeper Than Rap-era luxury yacht pop-rap. "Bands On Bands," the best bop offering (still my favorite mode of Deazel's even after he's proven he can do more).

WTF: Note to rappers: no one is fazed by your M. Night Shyamalan twist ending where the "girl" you love turns out to be a gun or your money (see "Nina"). Sorry.

Zuse, Bullet, March 27, 2014

I didn't know I needed a rapper to fuse dancehall's emphatic cadences with the gruff, animated experimentalism of young Atlanta until I was introduced to Zuse's "Red," a lurching, howling freak-out that somehow made total sense. Born in Kingston and currently residing in Atlanta, Zuse essentially personifies, and perfects, what Kanye was going for with Assassin's role on "I'm In It," but with the street themes and ear for beats of guys like Young Thug (who shows up on "Mayday"). Like Thug, Zuse's most immediately arresting quality is his voice—his deep, raspy patois is unlike anyone else in the game—and like Thug, once you get past the voice, his lyrical charm begins to manifest. The true strength of Bullet, his first ever mixtape, is in his beat selection. He's recruited some all-stars—Metro Boomin, Spinz, members of 808 Mafia, Zooly Gvng affiliates FKi—and while you'd think his bluster would fit best over the bombastic trap numbers from 808 Mafia and king, the tape's most engaging moments emerge in the contrast between his thundering voice and FKi's barely-there production. It's a polished, distinctive debut effort, and 2014's already wide open for him: "Treasure," his insane collaboration with Thug and Dun Deal, seems to be taking off, and he's apparently got a lot more music with Thug on the way.

Highlights: "You Know It," simultaneously threatening and vulnerable thanks to FKi's hauntingly minimal production. "Big Tymer," a cloudy reinterpretation of Juvenile's "Back That Ass Up" (with just a hint of Rihanna-inspired delivery thrown in for good measure).

WTF: You thought you'd heard the weirdest spin-off of Future's awkward mobster impression on "Tony Montana"... and then came "Soprano."

From The Collection:

Mixtape saturday
Mixtape Saturday: Zuse, Matti Baybee, Doe B, King Deazel