Remember when Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan took over the summer, but they were dropping songs every week? It made it hard to tell if a track was going to blow like “Tell Em” or fall by the wayside. Jose Guapo’s “Never Been a Lame” is a gem that came out a couple weeks back, but somehow rap media failed to pick up on it altogether. Perhaps it got lost in the “Only One” tsunami, or your favorite bloggers were still recovering from New Year’s Eve coquito hangovers. So it’s my job then, to persuade you that it’s actually fire and that it has all the defining characteristics of an anthem.
First of all, this lineup. Jose Guapo, Offset, and PeeWee Longway make quite the compelling Guaponese-speaking, lean-serving, handsome and wealthy supergroup. This could go one of two ways. 1. Each member competes at his highest level in a way that multiplies the combined forces, the ideal forming like Voltron. For example, Drake, Kanye, and Wayne on “Forever” (I’m aware of the glaring omission here) [Ed. Note—Alex is buggin'. Em murdered that verse.] 2. Each member’s valiant effort sort of drowns in the presence of each other’s in a way that ultimately dissolves the final product. For example, T.I., Jay, Kanye, and Wayne on “Swagga Like Us.” In classic rock terms, it’s like considering Cream versus the Traveling Wilburys.
Our crew at hand is of the first variety, as each verse seems to complement the next. Offset sets it off (as his name suggests) in true Migo form (“I’m sipping on Actavis like I got a cough problem. Hollow tips and revolvers, we pulling up and we solve it.”). Guapo himself comes through in his characteristic don’t give a fuck flow (“Burr burr burr, everything burr. See a nigga shining like a chandalurr.”). Then, finally, a show-stopping performance from Longway, who concludes his verse with a blissfully sung reference to “Lifestyle” (which makes sense because the whole song is in the same vein of its sonic predecessor, building on the elated melodies of the Rich Gang anthem).
Atlanta legend Zaytoven provides a light, well-ventilated beat with enough room for each rapper’s flow to shine in and out of the snap. But the song would be nothing without its simple, unfairly catchy, titular chorus. It’s just so relatable to fellow humans who have managed to avoid being a lame throughout their lives.
Guapo himself has been on the grind for quite some time. His seminal work, “Guaponese,” came out back in 2011. Guaponese, Jose’s language, is closely related to the cash talk dialect, and exists as the antithesis to Brokanese, which is spoken fluently by broke people everywhere. Go get that on Rosetta Stone if it’s not your native tongue. Among a number of mixtapes, he also had a particularly slept-on hit called “Fuck the Rap Game” on Metro Boomin’s 19 & Boomin mixtape from 2013, on which he raps about how he doesn’t have to rap. Guapo recently caught some criticism for the name and cover art of his upcoming Osama Bin Guapo mixtape, understandably. If “Never Been a Lame” is any indication, though, the musical content of it could hold some serious weight.
Alex Russell never sleeps because sleep is the cousin of being slept on. He's on Twitter @nonmogul.