So Yo Gotti’s album dropped and its basically what you’d expect: really good though not paradigm-shifting, post-Let’s Get It g-rap from a charismatic dude who’s more attitude than lyrics, whose voice can carry intensely heavy hustling tracks like “Full Time” as well as the subdued nostalgic joy of “Gangsta Party” or the tortured claustrophobia of “25 To Life,” the deceptively hopeful light in the darkness of “We Gonna Be Alright,” the Curtis-style blues of “A Part of Thugs,” the range and breadth you want from a dude spitting G rap at this point: perspective, an understanding of consequences and the ramifications of the way the world has dealt the cards. Someone wants to know what gangsta was like in ’06, this is as good a representative as you’re gonna find. The beats are pretty good, low-key and serviceable, and the random big-budget Storch beat doesn’t really sound out of place among the rest.
Suga Free is like Devin the Dude: his sound is sort of tangential to the mainstream of rap in the 00s, quirky, funny, easily identifiable rapping that relies on a sort of sad humor. Where Devin goes for regular-dude sad, self-deprecating humor of the little stoner in a big world, Suga Free’s is the tragedy of the world’s oldest profession from the exploiter’s perspective – although it is important to remember that the pimp is merely a link in the chain, exploited on his own, a role just above the bottom rung that will be filled past our expiration dates that media glamorization won’t change. SF’s take on pimping isn’t one-dimensional any more than Gotti’s take on dealing – not to say either is flawless or in any way morally righteous, but they’re willing to engage with the reality of the shit. SF’s humor never really seems to undercut his ideas, and that melancholic undercurrent from “Dip Da” (reflective track about his abusive father off his debut) still runs through much of his work, style and humor in the face of struggle. Suga Free is also like Devin in that his third and most recent album is probably his worst, another permutation of the same formula (basically, if you heard the last two, you know what yr getting into). The weakness on this one is basically in beats – I guess it was recorded before Suga Free and Quik were cool again, so all the beats are like imitation DJ Quik. That works sometimes, but for the most part they all have this unfinished feel, good ideas without Quik’s experienced tenderloveingcare, incomplete. Still its a good album, even if the fact that dude is a pimp rapper will keep him from being embraced by the same crowd that have taken up Devin’s cause.