Homixide Gang – “Homixide Lifestyle” review

The Homixide Gang are a duo from Atlanta, Georgia consisting of Homixide Beno! & Homixide Meechie. They started turning heads a year & a half ago after dropping their debut EP Snotty World, which led to trap trailblazer/rage pioneer Playboi Carti making them the 3rd act to sign to his Interscope Recordsimprint Opium Records following Ken Carson & Destroy Lonely respectively. Ken showed a more mature side to himself on his sophomore effort X with Lonely revealing himself to be the most versatile Carti protégé yet in the form of HIS full-length debut No Stylist, so it was only a matter of time until Beno! & Meechie stepped up to the plate with a debut album of their own.

“Lifestyle” starts off the album with a chaotic trap instrumental with an amazing vocal sample talking about how nobody can’t copy them whereas “Guitars” works in some synths & hi-hats to slide on the op block. Biggavelli’s verse on “Can’t Go” is a bit underwhelming despite the rage beat & lyrics about being unable to go to the club without the Drac’ leading into “Tatted”, which is a trap/rock fusion showing off the Homixide ink that they got.

Continuing with “5 Ways”, where Beno! & Meechie over some hypertrap production both speak on being the realest leading into “V-Friends” keeping things in rage turf talking about meeting a bitch from out of town that’s fucking their homie on the low. “B.B. (Big Coat Balenci)” has more of synth-trap flare to it detailing the rockstar lifestyle, but then “Lif3” surprisingly fused acoustic with trap talking about going through this pain throughout their entire lives. 

Biggavelli returns with Destroy Lonely for “TF!” asking what motherfuckers are gonna say when they pull up with the blick over a rage beat with Lonely’s verse outshining Biggavelli’s while “Notice It” keeps things in hypertrap territory talking about how they really be running shit. “None 2 Some” however laced some hi-hats & synthesizers speaking on going from nobodies to where they are today while “Scale Stretcher” with Biggavelli has a wavy vibe to it talking about moving weight. 

Following that, “Tripping” touches on getting to blastin’ & whackin’ in this bitch prior accompanied by a monstrous rage beat prior to Ken Carson coming through with my 2nd favorite feature on the album on “Stunt” getting on the more braggadocious side & the instrumental here is a futuristic groove to it that I really don’t mind. “Drakon!” goes full blown trap metal spitting that gun talk while the song “CV” brings back the rage talking about being on drugs as of late. The penultimate track “Wings” swearing that they don’t give a fuck over an alarmingly blaring beat & the 5unna-assisted Shots Off” rounds it out with some quirky synthesizers as the trio talk about pulling up on the gang in the southside.

I’m well aware of the flack that Opium has been getting recently due to Anthony Fantano’s harsh reviews of both X & No Stylist over the summer, but Homixide Lifestyle is just as solid in my personal opinion. I’ll even say it’s right in the middle behind Lonely & above Ken’s latest efforts. With all respect to the Melon because he’s the one who actually inspired me to write reviews myself to begin with & I’ll die on that hill, Beno! & Meechie both sound 10x hungrier than they did on their debut EP whilst refining their style for a wider audience.

Score: 3.5/5

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Saipher Soze – “Velvet Hammer” review

This is the 4th full-length album from Toronto emcee Saipher Soze. Emerging up as a part of the Brown Bag Money collective, he eventually went solo on 2017 with Godbody & then Kanibull Rising just 10 months after that. Last we heard from him was in the fall of 2020 where he dropped the super solid Eat What You Kill produced by Futurewave & Finn, but is re-emerging to let Sibbs Roc behind the boards throughout Velvet Hammer.

“Lion Paw” starts it all off with a boom bap instrumental that’s sweet to the ear as Soze admitting that he doesn’t blame anyone for dreading his bars & having a lot whereas “Rebelz” works in some synthesizers talking about being the last ones to do it. Pro Dillinger tags along for the piano-inflicted “Pray for Me” reminding that their skin is tougher than leather just before “Princeton 10” has a more jazzier flare to it talking about how the goal is to never fold.

Meanwhile on “Uptown Swing”, we have Daniel Son coming into the picture keeping things in jazz territory to discuss moving cautiously & leaving them with nothing leading into “Kings Gambit” solemnly returns to the boom bap warning that those who bump heads with him won’t survive. “Overkill” dives into more atmospheric turf comparing himself to a dog on a leash being let go, but then “Fly Guys” with Falcon Outlaw has a more slicker groove to it talking about how fly both of them are.

The song “Only Champions” with Philly Regs & Richie416 is a guitar/boom bap blend speaking on not looking both ways when shade is thrown while the penultimate track “Young Mowgli” has a more symphonic feel talking about being raised by the pack. “Speed Racer” with Snackz however ends the album with 1 last jazz rap cut & both MCs chasing the green.

It was only a matter of time before these guys linked up & in the end, Saipher’s first album in 2 years serves as an impressive comeback from the BBM member. Lyrically, he sounds fully recharged as he takes you through the hardships that he’s lived with Sibbs Roc’s jazzy yet boom bap production being amongst the greatest that he’s cooked up thus far. If it takes another 2 years for Soze to drop, then I wouldn’t even complain.

Score: 3.5/5

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Clouds in a Headlock – “Breakfast in Phantasia” review

Clouds in a Headlock are an international psychedelic hip hop supergroup consisting of emcees Dr. Outer, Èph & GT Lovecraft as well as the production duo Runaway 45. As artists members of the ŌFFKILTR collective, they started making waves off their debut mixtape Asmattic that celebrated its 2 year anniversary earlier this month. But now after landing a deal with Fat Beats Records not too long ago, the quintet is getting ready to properly introduce themselves to a wider audience in the form of a full-length debut.

“Raw Suede” is a jazzy opener from none other than Runaway 45 with the trio advising those to bow down to them whereas “Snake Eyes” goes into funky boom bap territory talking about respecting the clique. “Phantasia” has a more vintage sound to it with the dusty beat sounding like it was made in the 90’s speaking on their being no limits just before “Another Summer” has a more glistening flare to the instrumental talking about continuing to rock on.

Meanwhile on “The Clouds”, we have Clouds in a Headlock getting more abstract lyrically accompanied by a ghostly vocal sample leading into “Rigmarole” pulling from some blues influences sonically talking about that everything that they hearing in this world is pretty wacky to them. “Artists of the Floating World” is a bit more piano-based instrumentally with some more well-structured cryptic bars, but then “Paperweight” returns to a more jazzier sound talking about holding it down.

“3D Maze” has a more soulful vibe to it assuring that they’re thriving instead of surviving & keeping it moving while the song “Midnight Gospel” comes through a vintage piano loop dedications shots to all his people on the frontline & showing y’all the way they fuckin’ do it. The organs throughout the funky “Flawless” are really sweet as the group encouraging one to give up the fire horse” while the penultimate track “Crushed Ice” blends jazz rap & with a slick bass guitar to call their telescope range limitless.

If you’re looking for a new alternative hip hop outfit to get into, then you’re gonna want to check this album out because I think what they got here is pretty interesting. The production is a bit on the more experimental side to it with the lyricism being kin to that of Company Flow or even the Souls of Mischief. Interesting to hear how much they artistically grow down the line.

Score: 4/5

Busta Rhymes – “The Fuse is Lit” review

This is the debut EP from Brooklyn emcee, songwriter, producer & actor Busta Rhymes. Coming up as a member of the Leaders of the New School, he would go on to turn heads in the spring of ‘92 off the strength of his verse on “Scenario” off of A Tribe Called Quest’s iconic sophomore album The Low End Theory. The dragon would see greater success as a solo artist with full-lengths like The Coming, When Disaster Strikes…, E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event): The Final World Front, Anarchy, Genesis & The Big Bang. However when E.L.E. 2 (Extinction Level Event 2): The Wrath of God dropped a couple Devil’s Nights back, it would find Busta returning to form considering the mixed to subpar reception of B.O.M.B.S. (Back On My Bullshit & the Cash Money Records-backed Year of the Dragon. But to warm everyone up for his upcoming 11th album, Busta’s coming together with The Fuse is Lit.

“Break This Bitch Up” kicks off the album with a Middle Eastern instrumental from Swizz Beatz talking about how he can’t be stopped whereas “Slap” is a vintage boom bap cut produced by Marley Marl as Big Daddy Kane & Conway the Machine come into the picture to spit some hardcore bars tremendously. The song “Hot Sex, Pt. 2” has a more electronic quality to it courtesy of Aftermath Entertainment in-house producer Focus… with the lyrical themes being reminiscent of the Tribe Called Quest joint “Hot Sex” while the penultimate track “Bulletproof Skin” with Skillibeng is a decent dancehall/hip hop crossover. “Run It Up” though is a jazzy closer with Busta showing motherfuckers how it’s done.

E.L.E. 2 was an incredible return to form for the Dragon & for him to give us this as of way of holding people off until the next full-length, I wouldn’t say it’s as great but the high points on this EP are most definitely worth your time. The overall sound of it is eclectic from boom bap to dancehall & jazz rap with Busta remaining to be strong with the pen.

Score: 3.5/5

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Saweetie – “The Single Life” review

Saweetie is a 29 year old rapper & actress from Santa Clara, California who came up in the spring of 2018 off her debut EP High Maintenance. However, it wasn’t until later that fall when she started dating Quavo of the Migos where I really started paying attention. Her next 2 EPs ICY & Pretty Summer Playlist were ok, but maintained faith after “Best Friend” rightfully became the hit that it was. But with her full-length debut Pretty Bitch Music finally arriving next year, she’s preluding it in the form of her 4th EP.

“Don’t Say Nothin’” is a hyphy opener with Saweetie advising clout chasers on Twitter whereas “BO$$ CHICK” is a rubbery ode to boss lifestyle. “P.U.S.S.Y. (Powerful, Utopia, Supreme, Sacred, Yummy)” samples “Juicy Fruit” by Mtume in the same vein as the iconic Biggie single “Juicy” talking about female empowerment, but then “Handle My Truth” goes full-blown g-funk acknowledging that she never said she was perfect & asking if one can do such. The penultimate track “Memorable” returns to the hyphy sound talking about what it’ll take to be her lover & “No Reception” has a bit of a Neptunes influence to the instrumental admitting she’s been laying low for 9 months.

I really didn’t know how I felt going into this EP, if I came away from it considering it to be her best body of work to date. The production is respectfully versatile in sound & gives off a lot of charm with her performances go. Will most certainly have to check out Pretty Bitch Music whenever she decides puts it out in the upcoming year.

Score: 3.5/5

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38 Spesh – “Beyond Belief” review

This is the 4th EP from Rochester emcee/producer 38 Spesh. Notable for being the leader of the Trust Army, he’s been steadily busy throughout the last few years whether it be him producing projects for the likes of Planet Asia & Elcamino. He’s also built up an impressive solo discography for himself with my favorites being the Big Ghost Ltd.-produced A Bullet for Every Heathen & even his last full-length Interstate 38 a couple Christmases ago. But to follow-up 7 Shots almost 3 months ago, Spesh is enlisting Harry Fraud to fully produce Beyond Belief.

“Warm Winter” is a rap rock opener with Spesh talking about flying out to Hawaii with a bunch of bitches in December whereas “Speshal” works in more guitars as Stove God Cook$ comes into the picture following his immaculate feature on “Shootouts in Soho” off Westside Gunn’s latest mixtape Hitler Wears Hermes X to help Spesh deliver an ode to the drug dealing lifestyle. “2 23’s” has more symphonic boom bap quality to it as Conway the Machine drops the best feature verse with it’s insane rhyme scheme & Spesh talking about never stressed visits when he was locked up. “Loverboy” acknowledges that he was living exceptional behind bars, but then “Back to Shore” with Elcamino & Wiz Khalifa is an impassioning ballad about the road to riches.

Following that on “Target Practice”, we have Jim Jones & Spesh over more rock guitars talking about pulling up to your show with backstage passes until “Band of Brothers” with Benny the Butcher & Ransom finds the trio saying they came together similar to how The Jackson 5 did & the string sections throughout the beat are just absolutely fucking stunning. The song “Sal’s Pizza” has a cool vocal sample before the verses as Spesh hops on top of some pianos & guitars confessing he moved out of Rochester because home is where you receive the worst hate while “Mint Green” with Curren$y has a more chilling quality to it calling out those who were never them dudes. “Sharlene” though ends the EP chipmunk soul style talking about chasing big money ever since he first realized what it was.

For this to be the first EP he’s done outside of the Shots trilogy, it’s gotta be my favorite one he’s done so far & absolutely a highlight on his solo catalogue. Harry’s production has a predominant boom bap sound with some chipmunk soul & drumless undertones, the features all bring their unique styles to the table excellently with Spesh ensuring that people don’t sleep on him lyrically.

Score: 4.5/5

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Vinnie Paz – “Tortured in the Name of God’s Unconditional Love” review

Vinnie Paz is a 45 year old underground veteran from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania known for being the MC of Jedi Mind Tricks & the leader of the Army of the Pharaohs collective. He put out his first 2 solo albums Season of the Assassin & God of the Serengeti in 2010 & 2012 respectively, but returned in 2016 with The Cornerstone of the Corner Store. The Pain Collector would become my favorite of his since his first 2, but as above so below & Burn Everything That Bears Your Name were both almost as great, so I had no worries going into his 7th album considering his consistency.

“Pistol Opera” is a creepy boom bap opener with some piano chords talking about respecting violence & what he was purposely designed for until Method Man comes into the picture for the unsettling “Invisible Ether” produced by Stu Bangas talking about what happens when they start to flow. “Faith Healer” goes into trap territory thanks to longtime Enemy Soil Entertainment in-house producer C-Lance cautioning that shit’s all fun & game till the drum-magazines are empty, but then “Be Wise as Serpents” is a rap metal boom bap fusion with a ghostly hook & Vinnie acknowledging that motherfuckers think it’s cool to behave stupid.

Continuing from there with “Heroin on a Harpoon”, we have Geechi Suede talking about becoming rich as soon as his mom gave birth to him & Pazzy referring this as the oldest trick in the book over a boom bap instrumental with a blaring guitar & some jazzy undertones until “Curse of Canaan” with Kurupt finds the 2 talking about keep pushing the lines & the main loop throughout sounds like video game sound effects to me, I don’t know why. “Rambo Knife” however has some amazing vocal samples throughout speaking on cutting coke & causing panic, but then “3 Levels of Hikmah” is a triumphant jazz rap cut laced by Oh No with some incredible ad-libs talking about people shooting at him like paparazzi & a lot of them being yadda yadda.

“Killpoint” returns to the boom bap with some horn sections courtesy of Vic Grimes as Vinnie & M.O.P. get malicious lyrically while the piano-trap joint “Deadman’s Hand” calling himself the most ignorant of all-time while “Winged Assassins” with Boob Bronx & Ras Kass ruthlessly compare their rhymes to black hand-grenades. “A War Chest & a Propaganda Machine” has a more delirious quality to it provided by DJ Muggs being straight up & telling anyone who wants smoke with him to say his name while “Gunpowder Plot” with O.T. the Real spit some drug trafficking tales.

“Slight Rebellion Off Madison” is a woodwind/boom bap hybrid talking about how his shooters don’t die while “Father Yod” by the Heavy Metal Kings & Lord Goat finds the trio over some grim piano chords to spit that gun talk. The song “Spoils of War” with Big Twins aggressively talk about stomping on motherfuckers heads when they be outside over some ominous production while the penultimate track “Loro Pianas Robes” with Thirstin Howl III discuss being the upmost & being left cut in half over a glistening boom bap beat. “Zafiro Añejo” with Boob Bronx & Recognize Ali ends the album with the 3 referring to this as beautiful architecture with a flute hanging behind them.

Ikon the Verbal Hologram has always remained consistent with his music & even though God of the Serengeti is my personal favorite album of his, I definitely think this is the most I’ve enjoyed since The Pain Collector. The production has some more trap undertones to it this time around surprisingly, but best believe Paz & nearly every feature are absolutely catching bodies with their pens the whole damn time.

Score: 4/5

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BROCKHAMPTON – “T.M. (Tomorrow Morning)” review

BROCKHAMPTON was a hip hop “boy band” that originated in San Marcos, Texas in 2010 via the “KanyeToTheForum under the original name AliveSinceForever. But when things started to look good for them after they released the SATURATION trilogy to universal acclaim in 2017, one of their founding members Ameer Vann was kicked out midway through the following year due to sexual misconduct resulting in the boys’ next 2 albums following iridescence & GINGER were both released to moderate reception. ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW MACHINE however became their best post-Ameer album a year & a half ago at this point but after announcing their disbandment following their Coachella performances this past April & only a day after their de facto leader Kevin Abstract dropped his new solo effort The Family, the boys are getting back together one last time for their 7th & final album.

“F.M.G. (Fuck My Gang)” is an aggressive trap opener produced by Kiko Merley & JOBA with Dom McLennon & Matt Champion accompanying Kevin to quit being humble whereas “Animal” finds Jabari Manwa, Kevin & Matt talking about turning into beasts over a cloudy Romil Hemnani instrumental. Listerine” though returns to trap territory as Dom & Jabari addressing a bitch that’s tripping ’cause it’s less on them prior to the playful sounding “New Shoes” with Kevin, Dom, Matt & Merlyn Wood assuring everyone that the group is still on good terms with one another even though they’re disbanding.

However on “Keep It Southern”, we have Kevin & Merlyn over a trap beat with some synths paying tribute to their Texas roots just before “Man on the Moon” dives into more melancholic territory with a cool dance break at the end for Kevin & Matt to talk about wanting to make out with their lover on the actual moon itself & the hook is probably the catchiest on the album. “Better Things” is pretty much a moody Kevin Abstract solo cut with Matt on the hook & an outro from JOBA to speak on the next chapter of their lives just before “Crucify Me” works in some live drums & pianos for Kevin & Matt express their desire to rewind & pretend that they knew what they were in for with a crazy instrumental outro pulling from jazz music.

The song “Duct Tape” has a more booming quality to the instrumental as Jabari, Matt & Kevin admitting that they don’t have anything to talk about anymore as a unit while the penultimate track “Always Something” shoots for a more melodic approach as Dom, JOBA & Kevin sing about letting motherfuckers in something they should know. But then, “GOODBYE” serves as a bittersweet EDM-influenced coda with JOBA & Matt talking about not the “best time of our lives” for granted.

I’ll never forget seeing the SATURATION artwork everywhere when that album was first released when I was 20 & it prompting me to check out their music because it was good enough to make me to stick around for the whole ride, to which I’m happy I did because this was great swan song from them. I like how they fuse elements of trap, alternative R&B, cloud rap & even neo-psychedelia with their west coast pop rap style as everyone braces themselves for the next chapter. And before I end this review, I just wanna thank BROCKHAMPTON for all the dope music they’ve given us in the last 5 years & I wish them all nothing but the best going forward.

Score: 4.5/5

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Kevin Abstract – “The Family” review

This is the 4th full-length album from Corpus Christi rapper, rapper, singer-songwriter, producer & director Kevin Abstract. who made his debut in 2014 with MTV1987. He followed it up 2 years later with the fantastic American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story & then the following year, he rose to stardom as the de facto leader of BROCKHAMPTON. But with their 7th & final album TM coming tomorrow, Kevin’s re-emerging on his own with The Family marketed as a group project only to fulfill their RCA Records contract.

“Take It Back” is a chipmunk soul opener with Kevin admitting that he had to wash the blue paint off to set himself free & promising the next chapter to be everything whereas “RZA” works in another pitched-vocal sample from bearface talks about having to be more like The Abbot himself after speaking to his mother the other day trying to give him advice. “Gold Teeth” looks back on the early days of the boy band over a crooning loop kin to “They Don’t Care About Us” by Michael Jackson just before “Big Pussy” has more of a jazzy boom bap flare to it asking to stop harassing him because the show’s over.

Meanwhile on “All That”, we have Kevin admitting that the boys’ success came with problems of becoming rich with an amazing interpolation of the theme song from the titular Nickelodeon show that I grew up watching leading into “(Back from the) Road” reflecting on the Love Your Parents tour over a jangly instrumental. “Basement” has a more experimental quality to the production acknowledges his love for the fans despite that they’d kill him if they could, but then “Southside” tells those to stop actin’ like they know him over a sample-based trap beat.

“Good Time” has a more drumless approach to it speaking on the days when the boys played their final shows in London while the syrupy sample throughout “37th” is a cool ode to their Texas roots talking about ending up on the titular street if he could fly through a Cali night. “Boyband” weaves a gospel loop into the fold à la Kanye West’s last finished full-length DONDAacknowledging that they’ve always been outside of the lines while “Any Way You Want Me” asking what if he could change for us because we have him everything over a guitar.

Moving on to the title track, where Kevin jumps on top of a peppy beat with no drums talking about those not knowing shit about him while “Prayer” is a more melodic cut with some bare synths asking God not to make him grow up because he doesn’t want to move on from this amazing chapter in his life. The song “My American Life” goes in depth of how far he’s come in the last 7 years over some acoustics while the penultimate track “The Ending”samples “Let Me Be the One” by Willie Hutch asking if this is the way we all visioned the demise. “Brockhampton” though is a symphonic closer to the album with Kevin bidding farewell to the best boy band since 1 Direction.

It’s pretty much a Kevin Abstract solo effort labeled as a BROCKHAMPTON album & I’m assuming that’s the case because of contractual reasons, but I happen to think The Family is the best thing Kevin has done since American Boyfriend only 6 years back by now. He comes from the heart as he reflects one last time on the journey he & the boys have been on together with the production pulling from chipmunk soul, drumless, jazz rap & gospel. Considering that, I think TM will be a remarkably bittersweet swan song when it drops tomorrow.

Score: 4/5

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Juicy J – “Crypto Business” review

This is the 13th mixtape from Memphis rapper, songwriter, producer & record executive Juicy J. Rising to stardom in the 90s as the co-founder of the seminal Three 6 Mafia alongside his Tear Da Club Up Thugs cohorts DJ Paul & the late Lord Infamous, he also had the most successful solo career out of everyone in the Mafia whether it be the Taylor Gang Entertainment/Columbia Records-backed Stay Trippy & Rubba Band Business: The Album or even his last full-length The Hustle Continues under his new MNRK Music Group imprint Trippy Music. He just dropped Stoner’s Night with Wiz Khalifa at the beginning of the year & then Space Age Pimpin’ with Pi’erre Bourne over the summer, but is reuniting with longtime collaborator Lex Luger to surprise drop Crypto Business.

“Night at the Club” is an insane trap opener with Juicy describing the lavish lifestyle that he lives whereas “‘Cause I Live It” with Wiz works in some pianos & hi-hats talking about why they never talk it. Finesse2tymes’ verse on “Be Careful” is a little underwhelming to me despite the themes of watching out who you consider to be friends over more hi-hats & a creepy loop but after the “Big Triece Talk” skit, “Hit the Smoke” works in a soul sample talking about getting higher than a motherfucker.

Moving onto “Coinbase”, we have Juicy over a trap instrumental with some keys & horns calling money his league leading into the Lil Keke-assisted “Kill dat Shit” jumping on top of a repetitive “murder” vocal chop & heavy bass co-produced with BeatKing to get nasty lyrically. “Respectfully” laced some strings & hi-hats from Hitkidd admitting he can’t give bitches anything as well as giving a middle finger to those who be hating, but then “R.I.P.” gives condolences to a number of things ranging from Michael Jackson to the clothes he’s ‘bout to fuck up & the beat here has an uneasy quality to it that I like.

“I Got” however admits he has issues accompanied by some rattling hi-hats while “Send Her Down” returns to a more dramatic approach in sound talking about still being here in spite of those who want him dead for whatever their reasons may be. “Shrooms” with LXST CXNTURY finds the 2 tweaking out on the titular recreational drug with a more darker quality to the production while “Clap” with Trey Dizzle is basically an inferior successor to “Kill da Shit” down the raunchy lyricism.

La Chat though reunites with her former mentor on the self-produced “Mind Yo Business” warning not to stick your nose where it don’t belong over a misty trap instrumental while the bell-laced “Let It Go” betting that a sucka isn’t gonna play with him. The chopped & screwed sample through “Hot Sauce” is a really nice touch talking about being posted on the curb where he used to get rocks off & the final song until the outro “Know What’s In It” truly the ends the tape by charmingly detailing the shit that he got inside of his turn-up cup.

I already knew going into Crypto Business as soon as it was announced merely hours before it came out that it would be the best thing that would give us this year. Lo & behold, I like it more than both Stoner’s Night & Space Age Pimpin’ combined. There are most certainly a couple questionable features & production choices during it’s 47 minute run, but the joints with Juicy & Lex are some the highest points on the tape because of how well they continue to bring the best out of one a dozen years later.

Score: 3.5/5

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