About a minute into Curren$y’s latest mixtape, Saturday Night Car Tunes, the NOLA rapper issues a truly triumphant low-key boast. Amid the righteous ringing of “10 G’s” beat, he matter-of-factly admits how he “learned to correctly say the name of where I really am,” before smoothly moving on to the growing stamp collection on his passport.
This type of humble-brag gets to the heart of Spitta’s appeal. He could spout off some indecipherable names of off-the-radar islands, but that would make him like just about any other rapper. Instead, he’d rather let you know that he is both wealthy and smart enough to take time to learn how to pronounce his foreign hideouts correctly. It’s a one-upmanship that takes time and perspective befitting a rapper that has taken a circuitous route to stardom.
Curren$y, born Shante Scott Franklin, is no longer a second fiddle to Lil Wayne or his Young Money collective. While popular narrative says Wayne improperly deployed Curren$y as some faceless member of Wayne’s entourage, Curren$y clearly learned a lot from his established mentor (chiefly his mixtape model) and was forced to develop his own persona as a result. He learned what worked and what didn’t; notably, the importance of rapping about the things he cared about. More than just a weed-centric flow, Spitta taps on a comfortably blunted, hazy “jets” lifestyle. In this lane, Spitta consistently hits the landing.
Those looking for a full plate of Curren$y will undoubtedly finish the project with a case of hunger pains. Curren$y clearly realizes he has a captive audience, but like a talented chef, he is not rushing anything out of the kitchen. Unlike his predecessor, he has developed enough self-discipline to withhold his recordings until they are truly ready, and not simply hot enough for a mixtape.
This self-preservation is evident from the start, as the mixtape opens with a slow-cooked beat distinguished by its lack of raps. Suitably titled “Intro,” the cut is a slow-burning joint from ever-buzzing producer Cardo. Tinkling synth keyboards and dimly lit drums create a mood definitively Curren$y, who slides onto the beat with a sing-song slyness befitting his persona.
“Don’t trip, we ain’t rapping over it this time,” he insures. “But we ain’t wasting it, you’ll hear this beat again trust me.” With Curren$y, it always seems to be a waiting game. The question is whether or not the juice is worth the squeeze, and as we’ve learned with Spitta, he prefers the hand-squeezed shit. It’s usually worth the wait.
After the nonchalant intro, Andretti dips into the aforementioned “10 Gs” remix. In another Cardo production, Curren$y reprises the beat that blessed “The Drive-In Theatre.” He immediately reminds listeners he’s “still at it” before welcoming guest appearances from Birdman and a relatively restrained Gunplay; the former represents his grimey Nawlins past, while the latter calls on his cutting, calculating present. Neither say anything particularly surprising, though it still feels nice (mostly Gunplay).
Besides the producer Cardo, Curren$y seems to have found a similarly kindred connection with Thelonious Martin. Martin produced much of The Drive In Theatre and laced some classic boom-bap heat for the already-released “House Shoes.”
This record is ultimately little more than a mere holdover effort. Curren$y admits as much from the jump but the notion is reinforced on “Just Might Be.” Blessing a busy beat, the chorus hints that this song just might appear on Pilot Talk 3. He handles the beat capably, but his mid-range flow gets a bit lost amid the commotion and his self-reflection could actually benefit from a bit of curation.
The record closes with a collab from Wiz Khalifa, featuring some of the album’s smoothest production and most polished hook. It’s yet another tantalizing tease of what Curren$y is capable of. Like a mellow high, the track fades out and the listener is left holding the bag, resigned but ready for the next hit, however it comes.
3 out of 5
You can download Saturday Night Car Tunes here.