FAT BEATS/RED APPLES 45
Rap veteran AG never gets his props. He’s received critical acclaim for his collaborations with NYC producer Showbiz in the 90s, but his name is never ever mentioned amongst his contemporaries like Guru, Q-Tip, C. L. Smooth, Big L, and the Notorious B.I.G.. This doesn’t seem to bother him. In fact, listening to Everything’s Berri, you’d swear that this could be AG’s debut album. His super-lazy, relaxed delivery deeply contrasts his rigid and formulaic emceeing of the 90s. AG’s flow is neither a rip-off of Jay-Z swagger, nor a clone of “wavy” Harlem-ites Jim Jones & Max B. He leaves you with something entirely modern and experimental— basically everything NYC hip-hop lacked in the last decade. This is a brand new beast.
But with 20 years of experience and two undeniable classics under his belt, how does AG successfully metamorphize without becoming a wiggly Kafka-like mess? Well, for one, AG knows how to shed his skin. He mentions his Digging In The Crates past only once or twice during the span of the album. Not once does he refer to himself as a legend, realizing that nobody wants to hear him reminisce about the good-ole-days. I mean… do you like hearing your grandfather’s speeches about being in the war and shit??? No. Nobody likes hearing that sort of thing. Therefore AG forgoes recruiting mainstay producer Showbiz and opts for the fresh, new sound of Ray West.
And, my god, does Ray West come through…
Following the path laid out by Roc Marciano earlier this year, Ray West produces a masterfully done set of 17 tracks that build their sound around 70s R&B/Soul with a dose of noir. The whole album reminds me of the soundtrack to a gloriously low-budget Blaxploitation film. Ray West works with a Madlib-like progression, mashing old movie quotes, gongs, sirens and gunshots between most tracks. Songs often sample loops that noticeably lack continuity and exude a homegrown, almost amateurish feel. Ray West isn’t afraid to use claps, reverbed snares, rattlers, preset toms and shakers or simple low-cut filtration over his samples. In other words, Ray West is ballsy and fresh. Fresh balls. This could be the onset of a new era in NYC hip-hop. — MATTHEW HENGEVELD