Red Café might just be the greatest MC to never put out an album.
Through ten years and over a half-dozen labels [he's currently signed to Bad Boy Records, Konvict Muzick and Desert Storm] the Brooklyn rapper has remained a fan favorite while continually teetering on that line between underground respect and mainstream love.
On his first installment of American Psycho -- released at the end of 2012 -- Red featured a host of then rising stars including 2 Chainz, Chief Keef, and fellow Bad Boy artist French Montana. For the sequel, American Psycho 2, hosted by DJ Whookid and The LA Leakers, the prolific mixtape MC continues to show and prove with a versatile array of talent and production.
AP2 starts out with a distinctly New York sound but quickly branches out from there. A chorus of brass laid the foundation for "Ice Cold," an introductory track that lets people know they're listening to a pro. After that, Red linked up with fellow NY spitter, Chinx Drugz on "Yesterday's Lunch," a down south-tinged banger about Red and the Coke Boyz standout staying ahead of the game.
Red showed an impressive range throughout the mixtape, rocking beats from all over including the undeniably west coast party life joint, "I Love This S**t" produced by none other than "Mustard on the beat h**!" AKA DJ Mustard. Red paints a picture of every aspiring rapper's dream day in the life with rhymes like, "Doin' bout a buck on the westside/Head in the whip that's sexdrive. Got a pocket full of presidents/F****n' h**s in Puff Daddy residents. Everybody gettin' torn/Just a couple more shots and these girls doin' porn."
For a mixtape, AP2 featured a number of radio/club friendly tracks including "Look In Your Eyes," the oddly symbiotic, "A World Alone," with Grammy-winning Kiwi singer Lorde, and the over-the-top commercial endorsement of his label's brand, "10 Shots Of Deleon," which features a dope hook from Tory Lanez.
Though lyrically on point by himself, Red always rises to the occasion when he connects with heavy hitters on tracks like the Young Chop produced "I'm Rich" featuring French Montana and Ace Hood, "Ridin' Round," which he did with Bad Boy-turned-Po Boy Shyne and the feel good, "Do It For The Hood," featuring Akon and Maino.
Red was all over the place on AP2, turning up for songs like "The Thrill" and then toning down for songs like the trippy "Slow Down," which featured a psychedelic made more mesmerizing by the faint echoing of a siren singing throughout. "I hustle endlessly, the hustle been in me/But me and you it's true we got a chemistry. I know you like it deep so I be goin' deep/So I be goin' long 'til I put you to sleep. Silicone breasts, although they feel real/You do the magic in bed you tryna kill bill. We live this high life full of fashion killas/Do you powder your nose just to remove feelings?" rapped Red.
Yes, American Psycho 2 had a little bit of everything, which shows versatility but also highlights the value of an album's strategic arrangement (which tends to be lacking in mixtapes). Red Café delivers, and fans will continue to wonder why he's been one of the most underrated artists of the year for ten years.
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(Photo:Bad Boy, Konvict Muzik/Desert Storm)