Mixtapes of the Week: Psychedelic Hip-Hop & Rap Auteurs

A week ago I said Mixtapes of the Month should become a regular feature here. Well just this last week, a whole slew of outstanding mixtapes have shown up for your listening pleasure. One that I was excited for, Pusha T‘s Wrath of Caine does not make the cut here. A sizable step backward from the work he’s been doing over the past couple years, that tape sounds like the work of a man past his prime who’s both bewildered and bitter over weak production. Let’s hope he’s got some fire left in him for the album he’s set to release later this year.

Click on the link below to see the mixtapes from this week that I did like:

THEESatisfaction is made up of female MCs/singers Stasia Irons & Catherine Harris-White. The group is based in Seattle and closely associated with the like-minded trippy experimental hip-hop group Shabazz Palaces. THEESatisfaction released an excellent debut LP last year, awE naturalE. This mixtape, a tribute to the great soul enchantress Erykah Badu is short, clocking in at just under 18 minutes and much of it is purely instrumental. However, there isn’t a single note here that will cause you discomfort if you are a fan of laid-back psychedelic soul/hip-hop. The two stand-out tracks, “I Knowoulove(me)” and the Chappelle’s Show-referencing “Game BLOUSES” hit the highs of awE naturalE. Overall, a very rewarding listen and an encouraging continuation of these ladies’ young career.
Recommended Tracks: “I Knowoulove(me)”, “Game BLOUSES”
The Underachievers- Indigoism
This mixtape made my list of albums I was most excited for in 2013 and it lives up to my high expectations for it. The Brooklyn group, made up of Ak and Issa Dash are signed to Flying Lotus‘ Brainfeeder label, so they’ve got one big name behind them, but there are no features on here and no big-name producers. Flying Lotus heard of the band the same way I did: from a friend of his, who showed him the video for “Gold Soul Theory.” And he was as blown away by that video as I was (“Within the first 20 seconds I was pretty sure I was going to try to sign them.”) This is something new and different for hip-hop, despite the fact that the group shares ties with other groups on both coasts. They’re featured in the trailer for an upcoming film on underground hip-hop in New York along with Angel Haze and Mykki Blanco. They shout out Flatbush Zombies, Pro Era and A$AP on “Land of Lords.”And they’ve opened for Kendrick Lamar, whose Black Hippy squad are about the closest West Coast equivalent to The Underachievers. Like THEESatisfaction, The Underachievers make psychedelic hip-hop, but they’ve also got some serious fire-power to them. This is a mixtape that wants to enlighten you or at the very least take you on a ride with some living gods for the next hour.
Recommended Tracks: “Revelations”, “My Prism”, “Gold Soul Theory”, “Potion Number 25″, “The Mahdi.”
Curren$y- New Jet City
Curren$y is nothing if not prolific and consistent. This tape is packed with features: up-and-comers (Trinidad James and French Montana), veterans (Jadakiss, Rick Ross, Juicy J, Styles P and Juvenile) and close associates (Wiz Khalifa, Young Roddy and Trademark). It’s got production from Harry Fraud, Statik Selektah and Lex Luther. It’s also got one of his best covers: a beautiful old-school crime film background with trolley cars and well-positioned lamp posts. Now, this is far from Curren$y’s strongest work, but just when the tape hits a lull (yes the song that features both Rick Ross and Wiz Khalifa is the lull of which I speak), in rolls a trademark laid-back smoked-out track (“Sixteen Switches Part Two”), followed by a feature from the always entertaining Juicy J, then an excellent smooth soul sample on “Living for the City.” Young Roddy, who shows up on two tracks, has made some surprisingly great improvements of late. Curren$y appears to be grooming him into a protege, and he makes the biggest impression on a song with both his mentor and Styles P on it (“Drive”).
Recommended Tracks: “Sixteen Switches Part Two”, “Three 60 ft. Juicy J”, “Living for the City”, “Drive ft. Young Roddy & Styles P”
Lil B- Pink Flame
Like Curren$y, Lil B is also prolific and consistent. Both are auteurs of rap with unique and immediately recognizable styles and content. And while Curren$y’s latest mixtape has its own classic-looking cover art, Pink Flame‘s is one of the best covers I have ever seen. The tape gets off to a good start with “Pink Flame (Intro)” on which Lil B shouts out Morocco and Syria. Then “Eat” starts off with an ice cream truck sample before Lil B raps quite bluntly about his sex life, compares himself to Scottie Pippen, and tells us that he is ugly, has a speech impediment and is “a motherfucking gangster” over a slowed down funk/orchestral track. Joey Bada$$, why would you ever beef with Lil B on Twitter? Lil B includes “I’m The Bada$$” here, but that’s really an opportunity to hear his semi-stream of consciousness rap over a nice orchestral soul sample more than it is a dis track. He keeps things topical with “Ban the Weapons,” a rather dark flute-sampling slice of Lil B-style positivity. Thank you Based God!
Recommended Tracks: “Eat”, “Ban the Weapons”, “I’m The Bada$$”, “Up To Bat”

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