Poking around the net this week I encountered an ad billing New Orleans rapper Curren$y’s new album The Stoned Immaculate as his “debut LP”. Not only is The Stoned Immaculate Curren$y’s fourth release of 2012 so far, counting two EPs and whatever Muscle Car Chronicles was, but it’s his seventh of the last calendar year, if you factor in summer 2011’s Verde Terrace and Weekend at Burnie’s with fall 2011’s Jet World Order project. Nice retcon attempt, Warner Bruhs, but The Stoned Immaculate is Curren$y’s eighth solo album overall and fourth pass at a “debut”. But what makes this debut any different from the others? Well, it’s got that… debut album tracklist. It’s packed with B-list female R&B singers, MMG worship, and obligatory 2 Chainz features, all the industry cosigns that budding major label prospects are expected to contain. But while Spitta wisely used Warner’s money to corral some big names, to his credit, nothing here gets to feeling like a cash-in.
On the surface, The Stoned Immaculate is a star-studded go at the mainstream, but it retains the pillowy, ethereal quality of the production Curren$y seems to favor and pensive soul of his lyricism, coaxing guests into his druggy world rather than him into theirs. He scores the faintest Pharrell collaboration of the young year in the “Ooh Child” interpolating “Chasing Paper”. The lush, cinematic stylings of J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and the wah-wah drenched Southern funk of Big K.R.I.T. roll into the Jet Life manifesto without much fuss, and even when the Futuristiks drop a God of War II flip on “No Squares”, Spitta loses no steam. Wiz Khalifa couldn’t even fuck that one up with wack humble brags about drinking gin without chasers. Which reminds me, the guest features on this thing? Meh.
The parade of flighty guest verses from Curren$y’s everyman rap friends is this album’s fatal flaw. Wale spends half of “What It Look Like” patting himself on the back for dressing well. Wiz Khalifa drops a double dose of pothead platitudes on “Jet Life” and “No Squares”. 2 Chainz reads the dictionary on “Capitol”, coming out with “My reputation: detonation on destination”, “Seldom seen in forest green foreign machine”, and my favorite: “I’m fantasizing a tantalizing experience.” (His ascent has been foretold in fractious, burnt parchment scrolls of olde, and it clearly doesn’t matter what he says on these records anymore.) The only guest rapper that doesn’t get steamrolled by Spitta is Daz Dillinger, but in fairness, he’s been rapping since most everyone here was in grade school, 2 Chainz’s ancient Time Lord ass being the exception. On the whole the album left me wishing Curren$y kept better company on the mic, but with beats as posh as these, it’s best to kick back and appreciate the production while the goons carry out their slight work.
While it’s far from a debut album, The Stoned Immaculate does mark the first time in a long time that Curren$y gave up the indie rap folk hero shtick to make a concerted effort to sell records. But it speaks to the integrity of his artistic vision that his dash for the charts doesn’t land very far outside of the rest of his discography. If the recent successes of fiercely individualistic hip hop upstarts like Odd Future and ASAP Mob are any indication, you can be yourself and make waves in the mainstream too. The Stoned Immaculate is every bit as sleepy and insular as could be expected for a release carrying Curren$y’s name, and for all the expensive assists, Curren$y’s Jet Life buddies are never very far away.