About two weeks or so ago, Roel Osteen released 5200, a grab-bag mixtape of various clips of music that have appeared elsewhere online. It's a mostly fun tape. Notes ahead. One bulleted point for each of the fingers on his right hand.
#PayingHomage The best song on the tape is "Southside Groovin'," a redub of a track that appeared on Point Blank's Bad Newz Travels Fast more than a decade ago. Three takeaways:
1) Production team Beanz and Kornbread cleaned up the track to a proper shine. If you're going to try to make this type of beat, those two guys are the first one you should call. When it comes to shaggy, hazy, Texas rap atmospherics, they can compete with anybody on the planet;
2) On the original version, Ro was still an energetic pup, hurriedly pushing his way through the beat. Here, he does his sing-song promethazined boogie, harmonizing with himself and just generally sounding like a world beater. Best line: "We don't do no dancing, even less romancing";
3) Slim Thug is the guest feature here. The original version had Point Blank, Ro, SPM and Big T.
#LittleMac The most uninteresting song on the tape is "Macc & Tha King," mostly on account of the uninspired production and how overwhelmed the middle-of-the-road Macc Grace sounds when standing next to Ro.
The best line: "I was at the bottom for so long I didn't know [there] was a top. Now I'm at the top riding a drop top, I didn't know it had a top." Other features on the tape include the aforementioned Slim Thug, B.G. and an uncredited Paul Wall.
#ICan'tFeelMyFace The phrase that'll likely become popular in the suburbs in a few months simply because it shows up on a Z-Ro tape: Face real heavy. It's a slang term to mean that one is extra high, and Ro and B.G. spend five minutes and one second discussing how and when they feel that way. B.G., by the by, does a splendid job sounding extra heavy-faced... in his own croaky sort of way.
#Fuckin'WakaFlocka The best cover on the tape is "The 5200 Freestyle," done over Waka Flocka's "O' Let's Do It." It's the exact same version that appeared in video form back in September 2010, and that will inevitably lead to the type of criticism you'd expect, namely: This song is indicative of how incoherent and jumbled together 5200 appears to be.
But, in this instance, having it on here makes sense. This was not packaged and presented as anything other than a filler between Ro's last drugly titled album (Heroin) and his next (Meth). You can't pick apart a mixtape for not being an album anymore than you could pick apart a cat for not being a Honda Civic.
Speaking of: Best Line: "[I'm] a big body like a mack truck, Honda Civic-ass niggas can't dent me." That whole "[thing]-ass nigga/bitch/hoe" line - a derivative of the "[thing]-looking ass" insult that Hot Styles and Yung Joc helped make famous three years ago - is an exceptional amount of fun to employ. You simply take something lame, add "ass" and "nigga" to the end if you're black; "bitch" or "ho" if you're not, and blammo, you've got a grade A insult. The more obscurely specific, the better.
Got it? Cool. You Cloudy With a Side of Meatballs-ass ho. Sorry.
#UKNewWave, Naturally There is at least one track on each on Ro's tapes/mixtapes where he runs some sort of poppy silliness through a gangsterification process. Here, he takes Tom Tom Club's 1981 New Wave hit "Genius of Love" and molds into something a little more applicable: "Watcha gon' do when you get out of jail? I'm gon' jump my bond."
The best line in the song: "I'd rather jack off with $100 bill in my hand/ Fuck throwing it after I use it, it's still in my hand." We mean, shit. That's the type of line that turns people into Ro Heads instantaneously. This is the track that Wall shows up on. When we spoke with Chamillionaire back around the time Mixtape Messiah 7 came out, he mentioned how good Wall is at gauging someone's aura and matching it when he's on a song with someone. He does just that thing here.
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Follow Z-Ro on Twitter at @ZRoMoCityDon.