The very concept behind this duo’s The Vodka & Rum Mixtape is intriguing. It’s a blend of beats, both new and remixed, by producer Alexei Jendayi with emcee Kowboy Kom handling mic duties. Well, except for the verses lifted from other tracks by the likes of 2pac, Nas, Kanye West, and Lauryn Hill. As such, it’s intriguing to see if this could work – a rapper spitting alongside who are likely some of his heroes. Luckily for Fly Gypsy, a.k.a. the pairing of Jendayi and Kom, this mixtape is a relative success and sure to please plenty of listeners.
Also intriguing is the fact that these two talented guys come from backgrounds some might not typically associate with hip-hop. Kom hails from Jamaica, which you can hear in his voice when he spits certain words. Think Wyclef Jean, who’s featured on here, with less of an accent and a quicker flow. As for his producer cohort, Jendayi also emigrated from outside the United States, which the two call home now. He once called Russia home. But now, both Fly Gypsy members are based out of Washington, D.C. Oh, and they both are skilled outside of just making beats or spitting – Kom can play several instruments and Jendayi has a background in DJing and songwriting.
And after a chance meeting at an open mic, Fly Gypsy was born. That’s how we get to The Vodka & Rum Mixtape, a title that makes sense when you consider where each member hails from. The title also plays on the fact that this project has a smooth and uptempo party vibe. And it all starts with a fun joint in “Reasons”, which carries an early 2000s’ hip-hop vibe. A big reason for that is Jendayi laces a beat similar to Kanye West’s from that era. And it also features a verse of West’s from Pharrell’s “Number 1″.
On that note, let’s get back to the aforementioned issue of rehashed verses. You hear plenty of it on “Saturday Night Fever”, an otherwise fun-loving, altogether solid joint featuring Kanye West and Wyclef Jean. And here’s the kicker: Their verses are from “American Boy” and “Tryin’ To Stay Alive”, respectively. Some listeners are bound to be turned off by these reused bars in the sense that they would feel ripped off or cheated. Yet, Fly Gypsy incorporates these verses seamlessly for a completely new listening experience. The same goes for “Imagination”, a celebratory track dedicated to President Obama’s election victory. Aside from a so-so verse from Kom, you hear 2pac and Nas’s bars from “Thugz Mansion”. Again, they fit in and work with the tone of the song, but it’s still a bit of an odd tactic.
As a whole, The Vodka & Rum Mixtape is certainly worth your time. It’s a fun and different take on a project, the “mixtape,” that has more or less become played out with the internet playing a bigger role in music. At least Fly Gypsy took it to a different level by incorporating bigger names – a cheap move to some, a brilliant move to others – and giving a fresh spin on previously heard verses. This mixtape might not be perfect, but it’s still good enough to warrant a download. Also, you would be well advised to check back in November for the duo’s EP Higher, which is a stellar showing of what these guys are capable of.
Download: Fly Gypsy – The Vodka & Rum Mixtape