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Mixtape: L.A. Leakers Two Thousand Fourteen Draft Picks
Producer: Jon Boi
As 2013 began, Atlanta was operating in a strange place: Trinidad James mania had already subsided, and with buzzing mixtapes and a hit street single in "Colombia," Young Scooter seemed like the only new artist to make much noise outside ATL. Then, out of nowhere, Scooter went to jail.
Fast-forward a year, and the industry is inundated with new ATL artists. From the eccentric Young Thug (Don't miss his early record "Keep In Touch") to the Migos ("Pronto" is a slept-on jam), from Rich Homie Quan (You know "Type Of Way," but have you heard "Party"?) to Johnny Cinco (If you've heard "Wrong Nigga" don't miss "No Choice"), from Bloody Jay ("Let's Go Play") to Peewee Longway ("Loaded"), Atlanta's under assault from a surfeit of "ratchet" rookies, the "Sunz of Gucci Mane." The recent Lobby Runners mixtape already feels like a trendsetter, with Young Thug and the Migos' cabana-friendly "YRN" set to be 2014's most relaxed screwball spring break anthem.
Among this mess of personalities, in this stew of Gucci, Wayne, and Future acolytes, Que might seem like he's got the longest odds on first exposure. Especially if that first exposure is "OG Bobby Johnson," a total banger that also sounds like a note-for-note rewrite of Future's "Sh!t." [In this writer's unpopular opinion, it's the superior song. But even then, that's only possible thanks to the leveling power of Future's innovations, and the democratization of perfect pitch.]
Nonetheless, the L.A. Leakers have gotten their hands on an inspired follow-up from Que that suggests he may have more dimension than initially appeared. "Side Hustle" rides an ominous reggae lilt to tell one of the up-close and ugly stories of the "year of the sidepiece." "Only time she call is when she want something...Only time I see her's when she's mad at you." The anguished minor key melody gives the record's love triangle a profound ache. In another artist's hands, this is a story of glee or cold manipulation. In Que's, it's a tortured tale of the ennui and loneliness of sharing love, the disdain Que has for her boyfriend sounding as strong as his own self-loathing: "She says she tappin' out 'cuz you don't know how to love her/But she don't give a damn, 'cuz I'm a side hustle."