(Photo: E1 Koch Records)
Great mixtape DJs are like coaches in all-star games. With access to the best talent in the game and the creative freedom to do whatever they like, they have the ability to put together a truly amazing show for fans if they know what they're doing.
Funk Flex already proved himself to be a master of the art when he introduced the game to the concept of the commercial mixtape in the late '90s. After selling millions, he took a break to drop bombs in other fields including TV and the blogosphere. With the release of Who You Mad At? Me or Yourself?, he returns to the game he helped invent with a bang, uniting the biggest names from mainstream and underground hip hop to give fans a massive dose of futuristic music.
The Lox kick things off by helping Flex update the classic '90s hip hop sound on the title track. Reunited over a Jahlil Beats banger, Styles, Sheek and Jada get all the way gully and set the tone for Flex's continued bridging of the gap between old school and new.
On the very next track, Flex switches up the tempo as Fabolous sticks to his S.O.U.L. Tape vibe over a smooth Araab Muzik loop.
Young Jeezy in the studio with YG and DJ Mustard is yet another example of Flex's genius for mixing and matching styles and eras. On "Max Julien" he rounds up new-era A$AP mob, who chant O.G. street philosophy on a screwed hook: "Money make the motherf---in' world go 'round/Money make a motherf---in' girl go down."
Though his strategy seems clear, Flex keeps his tactics unexpected throughout the tape, Kendrick Lamar to Chris Brown; Chris Webby, Jeremih and Childish Gambino to Waka Flocka and Lil Reese. He brings the best out of Brooklyn rookie Troy Ave on the Buda Da Future and Grandz Muzik production "Perfect Love," picks and rolls with Action Bronson and Statik Selektah for the Jazzy Queens throwback "Live From Kissena Blvd" and even harkens to hip hop's Jamaican roots with a couple of tracks featuring newcomer Mavado.
Indeed Flex's coaching on this double disc puts this wide array of talent in the best position to score: pulling legends back into their primes and pushing new jacks just far enough out of their comfort zones to cause growth. No need to be mad, son, the whole game's winning on this one.
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