Hip hop's newest team of hitmakers League of Starz is a big part of the reason why the west coast has been experiencing a resurgence. They have crafted hits for Cali legends like E-40 as well as young rhymers like Problem and Skeme, and they blend that classic Bay Area "hyphy" sound with that L.A. "ratchet" to make the area's newest movement, "function music."
On LOS.FM [League of Starz. Function Music] the multi-manned hit squad make their first attempt at a mixtape and wind up proving that they're not just about making individual tracks. LOS' ability to produce a cohesive project is on full display as they call on veterans like Too $hort and young MCs like Tyga.
Uncle Snoop handled the intro, sending out a wake up call which segued into Iamsu's R&B-tinged flow on "Pay," which claps and bounces. Sage the Gemini then blesses the club banger "Wanna Go" with the hallway effect to give the beat more of a 3D feel.
The mixtape gets more grimy with the Tyga and 2 Chainz-assisted "Hijack." Rapid fire snare coupled with an eery synth-heavy backdrop make this track move. Oh, and they're not talking about stealing a vehicle. "Steal Ya B---h, call it hijack," they both spit on the hook. Clyde Carson and Jay Rock then keep it ratchet on "In the Hood."
"Who Got It" is exactly what you expect from frequent LOS collaborator Problem, who teams up with Dorrough to compliment the tuba-like baritone and bass laden track. The "Like Whaaat" MC comes back for one of the mixtape's high notes, "I Don't Want Her," on which he teams up with Eric Bellinger to flaunt his standards. "If they ain't look I don't want that girl," raps Problem over the beat, which is a hybrid of the MC Breed classic "No Future in Your Frontin'" and YG's "Toot It and Boot It."
Game, who announced last week that he was the latest artist to sign with Cash Money Records, comes through with frequent Nottz collaborator and former MIMS signee Bad Seed on "Put It on P's," which uses the subtle addition of the xylophone to keep it pushin'. Game picks up right where he left off with his own recent release OKE, rhyming "I'm a Piru/Yeah I'ma die too/I'ma take the fade if he 6'9" or 5'2"."
Both 2 Chainz and Iamsu return for "Living," a song about the finer things. "23 and I'm still livin'/Been all around the world, and I'm still rich/'cause I'm loyal to my soil/Good to my hood like oil," raps Su over a chorus of bells that ring like a wind chime. Nelly then brings back his early lyrical stylings on "Look," giving the song a nice balance for Problem and Tyga to get straight disorderly.
Perhaps the best song on LOS.FM was "1 Up," which featured the most lyrical pairing on the effort with Wiz Khalifa and Jadakiss. Snare and finger snaps give this one a pleasantly hood feel and, to add to it, Trae Tha Truth's signature gritty flow (a.k.a. the most intimidating whisper in hip hop) gave the song a little Down South flavor. Wiz switched up his style a bit, showing off a slightly faster than normal verse with, "I wake up, bake up, gotta get my cake up/P---y feel good, look great without no makeup/Real n---a here, not a faker/A hater/A boss n---a, certified player."
LOS.FM was definitely not hurting for big names.
In fact, it was near perfect for fans of that new, ratchet-heavy, snare-happy West Coast heat.
For OG listeners, however, songs like the Skeme-assisted "All That" and "Monster" (which further highlighted Problem's hesitation to step outside of his comfort zone) gave the mixtape a repetitive feel — the mix instead could have used a little more lyrical firepower.
But for whoever tunes in, it's easy to tell LOS is on pace to keep the West on top.
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(Photo: League Of Starz Music)