Curren$y seems to like friendly competition. On the latest from the N.O. MC, a mixtape called Bales, he has noticeably stepped his game up with his Jet Life partner Young Roddy keeping pace.
Going against the traditional hip hop model, the two trade verses on Bales without using a hook to transition from one to the other (think B.I.G. and Method Man on Ready to Die's "The What"). They feed off of each other in a manner similar to that of Clipse when the Virgina tag team first came out. That great chemistry and solid production make Bales an easy listen from start to finish.
On the opening track, which is also the title track, producer Harry Fraud sets the tone with a laid back track. Then Roddy comes in hard on the verse, spitting, "And I find myself blinded by million dollar thoughts, I'm just trying to make some money/turn my rainy day sunny, Frank White style my city I run it/skinny n---a turned chubby. For safety, my heater under my rugby/Either you hate me or love me. I purple label my luggage." The song is the first of many on the tape that offer a personal account from both artists.
On "Grizzly," Curren$y and Roddy use a vintage track that sounds like it is straight off of a Geto Boys album. The deliberately simple beat uses heavy piano to complement the braggadocious rhymes. Conversely, the borderline psychedelic "Weather Channnel" track grooves while the two trade tales of the come up. "This is a soldier's story/Smoking with my uncle, so open them doors for me/Every detail was gory on the road to the glory/But if my life was easy, my autobiography'd be boring/But this a how-to guide, holy matrimony/How to marry money, how to manage funding," rapped Roddy with that high raspy voice that's like a cross between No Malice and Bobby Brackins.
On "Certified," Monstabeatz made sure the bass hit hard but also added a resounding vocal loop that made the track flow. Curren$y put it down on this one rapping, "I wonder will I see 30/'cause them jack boys stay rollin', man them n----s outchea lurkin'/And I'm still rollin' like f--k 'em, and that make my mama mad nervous/No leaks around my faucet, man them groupie b-----s so thirsty/B---h, I'm shinin' 'cause I'm working/gettin' that paper cause I deserve it/Tryna smoke away my pain/I hope this L will never stop burning."
The duo add a touch of versatility with "The War On Drugs" and "100 Spokes," which offers a tinge of funk rock from producer Harry Fraud; and they bring in Cash Money pioneer and N.O. general Juvenile on the Mike WiLL Made It-produced "Mo Money." The track quickly makes the listener wish that Juve was on every one. Super group in the making?
Though "AD4" is a nice slow joint, perfect at two minutes, Curren$y and Young Roddy do not slow down as we near the end. The hard hitting "Walkie Talkies" serves as the soldier's weight room or drive to work soundtrack. The beat sounds familiar, almost like an early 2000s Yeezy track.
Bales ultimately closes on a high note, getting crunk on "Parking Lot Pimps," which offers introspection into their days as drug dealers and later as successful MCs. "Long night with that trap life, s--t I might as well smoke somethin'/Was way too young to even hit the club, s--t I might as well post up," spits Roddy.
This last lift parallels the trajectory the two have taken this summer, Bales being a huge improvement from The Red Eye mixtape that they dropped earlier in the season. Curren$y and Young Roddy should make an official album together, and they should bring Juve along for the whole ride.
(Photo: No Limit Records)