The melting pot that is Houston hip-hop comes with so many different ingredients it should be considered musical gumbo. For example, the rugged cool of your favorite street records and that fake bravado you feel when you hear them in a car at maximum levels. You want to know how often I've cranked a J-Dawg record and acted like I could eat bullets and run through I-45 traffic like the Juggernaut? Eleventy billion times.
Le$, the Boss Hogg Outlaw who seems cooler than anybody breathing at times, has just released a new long mix-album in The Struggle Continues. It's supposed to be a play on his 2010 tape The Beautiful Struggle, which gave us "G-Shit" and pretty much kicked off his run as the Houston version of Curren$y, tossing out new material to the point where we couldn't pick a definitive Le$ song.
So, "G-Shit" remained as the de facto L-E-Dolla song simply because of three reasons: Mr. Rogers' simple wind on a haunting chant and easy-to-pinpoint samples, Slim Thug bruising his way in on the second verse, and Le$ coming in with a signature catchphrase.
Judging by the cover alone, either this is Le$' version of Southern-fried 'Lac music, or he's obviously trolling everybody who loves the Confederate flag and its pure demonstration of Southern flair.
On his latest Struggle, Le$ is far more comfortable and in-pocket with his flow than he was two years ago. It's plainly evident on "Hindsight," featuring San Antonio's Worldwide and arguably the best saxophone use in a Houston rap song in a minute. It flutters and dances around in your brain before out of nowhere you find yourself hitting that slightly gospel chorus.
That's mostly Le$'s appeal. He can easily make a song about Whataburger and its delicious offerings, but would rather use it in terms of creative aesthetic. I'm fairly certain tons of burger wrappers hit the ground in order to craft a shimmering cut that fully endorses a lifestyle that incorporates "Yes, I took your favorite woman to Pappadeaux and then she polished me off" into a mantra on "Steak & Shrimp."
The beauty of Struggle, aside from Le$ being himself for the duration and no real creative reaches, is the fact that he and DJ Mr. Rogers form one ungodly producer/rapper combo. Whatever muddy windows open and see the world concoction Rogers creates behind the boards, Le$ swats that shit down like Paul Bunyan on a gnat.
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It's starting to get way too effortless to watch the guy maneuver around beats even with the floating chorus of Mookie Jones and the attack-dog style of Delorean following suit. Side note: Bus-driver uppercut punchlines are still pretty damn funny, even if the meme reached its apex last month.
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Does Struggle drag? Not at all. It dives into a lush climate that feels at times birthed from the same West Coast fields of Zapp and Ronnie Foster, a cacophony of grooves with heavy-handed bass lines mixed with enough sonic goodness to make it feel like a jazzy rap album meant for a smokeout inside of a 'Lac or late-night stroll through Houston city streets. As cliched as that may sound, Le$ has definitely mastered the art of riding music -- a daft mix of bravado, humility and yearning for even more.
Struggle was never meant to be so damn addictive.
Download Le$' The Struggle Continues mixtape here.