Here's a peculiar thing: normally, any day marked 4/20 would give way to a baker's dozen worth of rap treats. But the last major Houston rap release to originate from this particular date was Doughbeezy's Reggie Bush & Kool-Aid, and that was three years ago. Since then? Rappers and weed-loving musicians have sort of left the weed theme alone; especially considering that Sunday doubled as Easter, the idea of a 4/20 mixtape damn near seemed extinct.
Unless you're Jodi B. Basik, that is.
With or without the ever-expanding Numbers Committee behind him, Basik has carved out a respectable name strictly off track features of a wide array of Houston musicians and a wildly intriguing Twitter profile that offers about as much insight into his daily dealings with women as Tim Meadows's The Ladies Man. But at heart he's a musician, who bakes in an intriguing mix of crass and unapologetic sexuality, humor and potent mid-grade rapping when he feels like it.
His HIGHtivities mixtape comes stamped with a weed flag insignia and 18 tracks (including three skits), a tape crafted with a single purpose: to be played in the background during a smoke session. As a concept, this might be one of the few moments where a musician openly declares his music is strictly for aesthetic purposes. Kind of like someone readily admitting they're the glue guy in pickup basketball, those guys are underappreciated.
Basik's music tumbles down in a multitude of sounds, funneled through either smoked-out 808 drums or a series of smooth snares and hi-hats. Only problem is, you're left wondering which slice you prefer more, the rapper who openly prefers original S.U.C. material over anything else on ("Top Bacc") or the guy who writes with R. Kelly-esque metaphors with a sheepish grin ("Clitar").
Best Song: "Rasta Love" is the moment where everything seems right in tune. There's the soft pitter-patter of snare and hi-hat and Basik contorting his voice into a more than believable patois. The fact that the track is more than a year old is a sign that you don't necessarily have to tinker with something if it's excellent. Plus, when's the last time you heard a great island song on the radio? Gyptian's "Hold Yuh?"
Basik can find himself slipping at times. He almost runs down a rap slope next to Doughbeezy on "In The Morning," from the aforementioned Reggie Bush, but when remixing industry tracks such as Drake's "The Language" for "The Lingo" or his own transfusion into Big Moe's "Just a Dog," then he's comfortable. It's a pretty distinct shift from how he presented his rap capabilities then and now.
Consider this: we've been on the ride to this one particular tape for the better part of a year and a half now, and all the parts needed to align. You needed George Young in the fold to engineer the entire thing, even to supply a beat or two as on the title track featuring the hilarious Reggie Bo.
Instead of just tying all of those loose tracks into one project, HIGHtivities sounds tailor-made for somebody with about four subjects that are on automatic rotation in his or minds. It's green but workable, and a more than adequate selection of Jodii B's best work.
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