Relatively speaking, producer turned rapper turned producer/rapper hasHBrown has mostly operated outside the reach of local acclaim; he has received zero HPMA nominations, zero print features and zero retweets by Slim Thug. It's less indicative of his talent (of which he has plenty) and more indicative of the number of other talented rappers in the city (of which there are also plenty).
Still, he has managed to cull together a nice amount of buzz for his latest mixtape, Rap Mayor, an unofficial title he has officially given himself. It is a frothy, ambitious tape and dexterous enough to assume that the prediction we made about him having his fingers on a ton of good music this new HPMA cycle will prove true.
Some notes from the RM listening party that we hosted in our living room on the family computer over the course of three days.
• From the onset, it is immediately clear that this is a mixtape; the first actual song is a redub of J-Dawg's monster "First 48," followed shortly thereafter by a lift of Lupe Fiasco's "I'm Beamin'," Drake's "Light Up," J.Cole's "Who Dat" and so on. Speaking of...
• hasH is the second local undergrounder to tackle Cole's "Who Dat" in the last month. (The other guy is Preemo, this year's frontrunner for the Unexpected Juggernaut award.) hasH semi-snaps on his version; Preemo's is tough too. Listen to them both. You decide which is better. The way you answer that question is just as vital when deconstructing your persona as the you answer the "Pro-Choice or Pro-Life?" debate or the "J-Woww or Sammi?" debate.
• The first time we tried to listen to this tape, our sons were running around in the background doing this or that. They'd periodically pop over to see what was going on. It is damn near impossible to quench a toddler's thirst for knowledge; this should be a wonderful thing - asking questions is a fundamental part of being intelligent - however, three-year-olds ask nonsensical, gibberish questions. Seriously, how does one answer, "Hey, daddy. What it does (pronounced: dews) that for the music?" or "Hey, daddy. Get the tired out of me."
• hasH can certainly dial up some clever quips ("I love black girls; call me Thomas Jefferson"), but he's still not above regressing back to things like "skills to pay the bills." This, we assume, will be the type of thing that eventually flushes itself out of his rap lexicon. Speaking of...
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• HB has a tendency to try and bend the production of his songs towards his will when he raps; he does it on several songs here. When it works, he sounds like a champ, like a veteran MC completely comfortable in territory a lot of rappers aren't fond of flirting with (it can be very Jay-Z-ish). When it doesn't work though, he can sound skittish and erratic and a lot like the way your feet look when you mis-guess the steps leading up to a lay-up (remember early Silkk the Shocker music?). You have to appreciate how often he goes for it.
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• The features on this album are highlighted by appearances from three of Brown's contemporaries: the cool John Dew, who delivers a verse interesting enough on "Air Conditioning" to make you go back and re-listen to his own solo work; the even cooler Hollywood FLOSS, who glides in and out of the same track like wind; and crooner/rapper Kidd the Great. Speaking of...
• Know this: You haven't heard too much about Kidd yet, but when he (finally) releases a mixtape or album or something, you absolutely will. A lot of the newer guys are to the point now where they're enough steps away from their local rap roots that they're not dominated by its dogmas, but Kidd does well to incorporate a certain amount that sing-song stuff the older guys built their music around into this new sound. He even has a couple of gold teeth, which should always be considered when measuring a rapper's worth. Please somebody loan him $1000 so he can put out a proper mixtape.
You can download the tape for free here. Have at it.
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