Curren$y – The Drive In Theatre

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Starts with a head full of hair before ultimately succumbing to male pattern baldness, though it ends on a high note: Smoke DZA drops the best verse on the album on “The Usual Suspects” (“From Australia to Montauk, I kill them with the Don talk / And when it comes to the indie bread, I’m the hip-hop Thom Yorke / I’m too real for the Radioheads/radio heads”). But the rapper – as expected – is boring and Thelonious Martin (and the various other producers who keep in line with Martin’s vision) keeps making different beats out of the same parts: a hooky sax sample looped until Curren$y’s done (ie. compare “Stove Top” with “Vintage Vineyard” with “M.P.R.” with “The Usual Suspects”). But still, because the beats are silkier than they were on New Jet City (to which The Drive in Theatre has been marketed as a sequel for), and because those habitats are where Curren$y thrives, this is better. The only misstep is “10 G’s,” whose chorus goes “I can take 10 G’s, make 20 more 10 G’s wit dat” repeated eight times per instance. It’s a sour moment, not just because of the obvious emptiness of the brag, but because Curren$y has to smash so many syllables together to fit the meter that it momentarily brings you out of the atmosphere that the album worked so hard for.

Anyway, I’m of the opinion that the best Curren$y mixtape not named Pilot Talk is the one that you make yourself, and I leave here with two cuts. If the string line from “Godfather Four” bothers you (guess where it came from), dig the horns in the hook instead. Meanwhile, “Stove Top” has the most indelible sample as its hook (instead of being used throughout the entire song), and understated drum programming and a squiggly bassline during the verses.

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