Gangsta Boo & Beatking,
Underground Cassette Tape Music
Do yourself this favor: Immediately before or after you mash out to this tape, revisit Gangsta Boo's first solo album, Enquiring Minds, which features peaks of creative tension and feminist declaration matched only (perhaps) by 2Pac's All Eyez on Me, released two years earlier. Boo's Enquiring Minds dropped in 1998, when crunk was still very much a regional, underground phenomena that rap critics vaguely credited to Master P and, eventually, Three 6 Mafia, the Memphis posse by which Gangsta Boo linked up with DJ Paul, Juicy J, and Lord Infamous in the mid-'90s. Enquiring Minds is Boo's flawless, five-star solo debut that New York was of course too good for back when it was released. Lucky for you, there's Spotify.
If, due to whatever unfortunate, coastal chauvinism, you slept on Project Pat, Three 6 Mafia, et al., throughout the late '90s and early '00s, no matter: Three 6 Mafia and UGK are the forefather ghosts of contemporary rap, from L.A. to ATL to OVO. The South been risen.
Not that 2014 is a landmark year for new music, though it may well be the Year of the Suddenly Signed Hype. Coincidentally, 2014 is also a year in which Gangsta Boo gave us not one, but two commendable projects, first the Witch EP with La Chat, then this latest, greater assembly for heads who revere the mixtape form as something other than an underpromoted LP, too full and nuanced for its own good. Where Rich Gang's Tha Tour mixtape offering is moody and luxurious, Gangsta Boo and Beatking's Underground Cassette Tape Music is the series of noise complaints and parking lot altercations preceding a night in the drunk tank. Grab a helmet.
Underground Cassette Tape Music earns its title precisely. As a mixtape, it's a busy, kinetic affair that blends new and old, refreshing Lil Flip's biggest hit on "Like a Pimp 2014"; sampling the famous, Pavlovian string flex from Mike Jones' "Still Tippin" for "Roll Hard," also featuring Paul Wall; and inviting Houston's Lil' Keke to offer his screwed interlude reflection on mainstream rap's debt to his city: “I’m from H-Town. Gangsta Boo from Memphis. A lot of shit came from H-Town and Memphis, my nigga. . . . If you rap like this—swangin and dropping I'm packin the Glock and cockin it back—nigga, that came from Lord Infamous. That came from Memphis.”
Gangsta Boo and Beatking's Underground Cassette Tape Music is the series of noise complaints and parking lot altercations preceding a night in the drunk tank. Grab a helmet.
Rarely does a single mixtape feel so tremendously, comprehensively local, unconcerned with national trends or accessibility, but top-shelf and excited nonetheless. The horrorcore bass patterns of “Ain’t Shit Changed,” “Mashing,” and “Rambunctious” owe as much to DJ Paul as they do to Yeezus. And while Kanye’s cult-favored rage album is overly "artistic" and overmedicated in its darkest moments, Underground Cassette Tape Music is boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, bitch! boom—the sort of party that bruises. Lil Flip shows up to assist the sequel to his and David Banner’s 2003 hit, “Like a Pimp.” Here the updated version, “Like a Pimp 2014,” is more percussive and contested. Gangsta Boo's irrefutable braggadocio tends to counter skeeviness such as Flip's "if she old enough to bleed, then she old enough to breed," which sounds rather less gap-toothed and gross than when three guys exclusively arrange themselves in a studio to talk this same shit. "I don't sip, I sniff," Boo raps. "I don't dance, I tip!" (She told Noisey, however, for the record, that her only drug is money.)
Free from the major label pressure that's shoved Boo's former bandmate Juicy J onto Billboard 100 hits with Katy Perry, Underground is a perfect storm of regionally proud features, unrelenting beats, loud but not quite brash, with frequent nut-checks, na-nas, and a certain bravado issued by age and experience. Beware the general call, persistent as of late, for O.G. rappers to retire at the end of their Soundscan peaks and radio hype cycles. Don't sweat the mileage; perfection is a measure of vintage. Last week, blonde Australian trap pretender Iggy Azalea, 24, whimpered as Snoop Dogg cast threats and aspersions her way via a series of gross, obsessive posts to his Instagram account. Gangsta Boo woulda just slapped a pimp.