Favorite Mixtapes of August 2015 Tinder-swipe, fake Versace, and ballistic double-time volleys

With a daunting cascade of releases spewing out each day from the likes of DatPiff, LiveMixtapes, Bandcamp, and SoundCloud, it can be difficult to keep up with the overbearing yet increasingly vital mixtape game. In this column, we aim to immerse ourselves in this hyper-prolific world and share our favorite releases each month. The focus will primarily be on rap mixtapes — loosely defined here as free (or sometimes simply free-to-stream) digital releases — but we’ll keep things loose enough to branch out if and when we feel it necessary. (Check out last month’s installment here.)


Tink - Winter’s Diary 3

If the tinder-swipe was sworn in as the only arbitrator for potential romance, Tink’s nonchalant passion would be the perfect soundtrack to ensure that each swipe ignites flames. Poetic fire would erupt from that immediate thumb-to-screen contact, her sultry delivery chorusing that tactical moment between flesh and gorilla-glass — rendered as intimate as soaked, skin-to-skin contact. Winter’s Diary 3 has subs rolling sly over sensuous guitar riffs. These are upright tracks that tell stories of bodies turning cold without constant touch or thumbs frostbitten without the meager warmth of a lucent screen. Occasionally, her usual rawness softens a little too much into a Jhené Aiko replica. But it’s impossible to ignore how visceral that style of delivery can be; besides, she can turn on the fire at a moment’s notice, enough so where a lax tinder session slips into bacchanalia.

Slug Christ - God Is Under the Porch Where the Dog Died

What keeps me coming back at all is that itch that keeps me scratching at that gray gunk sitting just inside my ear shelf: do I even enjoy this? I mean, this shit is nauseating (Slug admits it himself on “Weigh Heavy”). A lot of it makes me wanna straight-up vomit all over my sandals. Its crawl of a tempo reminds me of sitting in traffic on a hot day that I planned poorly for, that kind of traffic where every five seconds, you’re pushed a foot forward, requiring just enough attention that you can’t pull off your cardigan under your seatbelt without rear-ending someone. I could save myself and turn it off at any time, but that’s where Slug gets me. Slug ain’t that type of Christ. I don’t need this shit. I don’t even know if I want this shit, but it’s here anyway, right under that goddamn porch where that “bitch” rolled over and died. What makes it so awfully affirming, though, is that it needn’t be redemptive in its immersiveness. Jesus died after spending 40 days in a fucking desert. You’re alive. What else are you going to listen to?

Lil B x Chance the Rapper - Free (BASED FREESTYLE MIXTAPE)

Step into Lil B and Chance The Rapper’s freestyle collab zone expecting some Cam’ron-caliber internal rhyme mastery and you’ll leave disappointed. Instead, spark a blunt, shed your preconceptions, and celebrate life in the fine company of these young men. This is lifetime music. Lil B has rarely sounded more experienced, more confident, than when he plays the straight man to Chance’s wild card. While The BasedGod demonstrates his absolute comfort with the freestyle format, maintaining his gregarious molasses flow across long swathes of hyper-posi free-association, Chance flits from ballistic double-time volleys (“Last Dance”) to turn-up exhortations (“Do My Dance”) to straight-up howling (“We Rare”). When both settle in for the long haul over the barebones keys and finger snaps of the centerpiece “Amen,” their shared meditation spellbinds us with streams of grinning self-affirmation wrapped in stutters and sing-song cadences. The DGAF rawness captured in each stumble, spoken aside, and obvious or repeated rhyme scheme would aggravate in lesser hands. But coming from these two, who have built careers on the cornerstones of their benevolent irreverence, each “error” entertains just as much as the flash of Based brilliance that follows it.

Curren$y - Cathedral

Around 2011, Curren$y hit a patch of turbulence. It wasn’t as if his output weakened significantly — Weekend at Burnie’s and The Stoned Immaculate were just as laconic and well-observed as his earlier, better regarded releases — but there was a tangible decline in enthusiasm and direction. For a minute, Curren$y’s jet life was looking like Flight 370, lost midair, unlikely to be recovered. And yet, Curren$y turned a corner last year and has since been on a run as strong as his early ’10s streak. His newest mixtape, Cathedral (produced in whole by fellow New Orleanian Chase N Cashe), represents a new peak for this leg of Curren$y’s career. Much to my disappointment, Cathedral is not a Raymond Carver homage, but Curren$y shares with Carver a knack for minimalism and believable depictions of chemical dependency. While this newest release doesn’t cover any new ground, Curren$y makes better use of a hookman — in this case, Raheem DeVaughn — than he has in the past, and on the plucky, nimble “All Over,” he’s produced yet another track worthy of the stages of Antibes or Montreaux. Even if Curren$y is unlikely to ever break out of his lane, Cathedral stands as a welcome reminder that one doesn’t need to be especially creative or even commercially-viable to be one of the best rappers working.

DJ Paul - Da Light Up, Da Poe Up

The slew of Three 6 Mafia-related releases in the past handful of years have all been worthwhile in their own unique ways, some even making offerings that shine just as bright as Three 6 highlights. But it’s DJ Paul’s Da Light Up, Da Poe Up that unleashes that incredible force of darkness Three 6 fans truly love: cold, reverb-laden production with a quick, effortless feel for hooks. In the manner that cinematic horror works better with cheap in-camera effects than polished CGI, frightening music also can suffer from being too slick. While this mixtape doesn’t really sound like DJ Paul returning to his first 4-track to record with, there is a rough and raw fuck-it approach here that is full of power. This impressively consistent and inspired collection culminates into hit material with “Lil Momma (Make Dat Azz Drop),” taking the elements of today’s radio-friendly ballad trap and giving it a Three 6 makeover. Much like how Juicy J has been able to reinvent radio hip-hop by doing it his own way, DJ Paul has a found a way to do just the same without walking in his partner’s footsteps.

Father - Papicodone

Father’s Papicodone EP is different from his two prior releases, Young Hot Ebony and Who’s Gonna Get Fucked First, in the way iLoveMakonnen’s self-titled was different from his Drink More Water mixtapes. Father’s EP is short, concise, and plays more like a group of singles: “Getaway” was the EP’s first drop in May; the siren sounds “Please Stop Wearing Fake Versace” came out in June with a World Star-hosted video; and “Fake AF (Remix)” featuring Awful’s Texas satellite rapper (and future Fredo collaborator?) was picked up last month. The other two tracks, “Crush It Up & Snort It” and “All Black Hummer (feat. iLoveMakonnen, Ethereal, and Archibald Slim),” could be standalones, too. The video for “All Black Hummer” came pinned to Papicodone, and “Crush It Up & Snort It” is Papicodone’s quintessential Father: steeze flow, lusting, bars about bars, metronome-built beat like a 2005 Fabo song slowed 10x. With the year-long aftermath of “Look At Wrist” and interim rise of Awful Records, the five-track Papicodone is a Don letting the neighborhood know things aren’t going to change anytime soon.

Finale- Bits & Pieces

Ahead of his return to the fore on Mello Music, Detroit’s Finale dropped Bits & Pieces, a tape that acts as both a consolidation and a sneak peek into his latest work. The influence of the Motor City is inescapable, what with the mercurial House Shoes on mixing duties and production from the likes of J Dilla and Black Milk, but geography, it never dictates the mixtape’s reach: with further beats from Oddisee, FlyLo, and Knxwledge, Finale has brought some heavy hitters to match his perennial chill on the mic. Bits & Pieces is ultimately a fairly simple proposition; nigh-on 50 minutes of primo hip-hop, best consumed in its entirety. Phoned-in conversations singing his praises are smattered throughout, a gimmicky but nonetheless charming element that reinforces his place in the hearts of heads everywhere. With this tape and cite>Odds & Ends, he may well get his “Just Due” after all.

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