Rocks Off has been anticipating several mixtapes/albums that have been released or are about to be released this year: hasHBrown's Relationsh*t, Kirko Bangz's Procrastination Kills 3, Just Brittany's More Than Just a Pretty Face, whatever Tawn P is working on, and so on.
Also on that list is Yung Quis' 16 oz. Quis is a frontline ABN member alongside Trae, Jay'Ton, Clip, Boss, etc., as well as a frontline SGA member (Second Generation Assholes). Think of the relationship between the two as a sort of farm league for gangsters.
He did a few biggish guest features last year, most notably on Trae's Can't Ban Tha Truth and Jay'Ton's unjustifiably ignored Got It By Tha Ton, and received a fair amount of buzz for his efforts. 16 oz. is his first big-scale solo project.
Rocks Off had the album secondhanded to us by Show, one of the rappers who makes an appearance, because our reliable Corner Store CD Man has yet to get his paws on it. It's not available online yet, but will be eventually. In the meantime, settle for some notes about the album that we took while hosting a private listening party in our living room this week.
First, and this isn't necessarily directly related to Quis, but it still applies: Beats by Dre headphones are amazing. It's like strapping two 12" speakers to the sides of your head. You can't hear anything else going on when they're on, which makes exceptionally easy to ignore when one of your sons whips a remote control into the face of your other son because he's being too bothersome.
We keep telling Boy A not to mess with Boy B; something is off with B. He's crazy as shit. He does wicked things for no real reason and responds with excessive force at the slightest hint of injustice. Beats by Dre: Headphones for lazy fathers.
The tape was released right around Super Bowl weekend, but didn't arrive in our inbox until last week. With regards to gangsters, the term "release" usually means "started handing 'em out to people everywhere we went." It's an admirable form of trickle-down economics that a) quickly rewards fans who live in the same area of town as the artist; and b) builds buzz as murmurs about the tape grow louder and louder.
This mixtape is only a mixtape in strict theory; of the 18 tracks, 14 of them are actually original production. They were produced by Boss DeVito, an Ohioan with whom Quis feels he has a thorough understanding of the type of gangster rap backdrop he looks for when choosing beats (open, looming, malevolent).
When asked how he came to know DeVito, Quis replied, "That's my little cousin." It's entirely possible that DeVito is of absolutely no actual relation to Quis. Their liberal use of familial designations is one of the things we like most about gangsters.
The most immediate "He Sounds A Lot Like..." comparison to make is between him and Young Jeezy. Quis rasps and rumbles and pushes his way through the majority of the tape, getting keyed up only often enough to let you know that he can do so at his leisure.
His most ferocious moments come when he's paired up with Rap-A-Lot's grumbly FameSity. It's impressive how polished Quis proves to be, though that's probably to be expected considering he's been within Trae's wingspan for the bulk of his rapping career.
The guest features lineup reads like a list of About To Pop gangster rappers: Mug, Show, the aforementioned FameSity, etc. The only non-Houstonian with an original feature is Smiggz, an Ohio MC connected to the project through DeVito. We did not specifically ask, but it's likely Smiggz is likely classified as a "little cousin" as well
The most curious inclusion on the tape is "Can't Ban Tha Truth," which appeared on Trae's album of the same name last year (it was named the Most Important Houston Rap Album of 2010).The reasoning behind it is actually sound, though: "That was the first track that really exposed me to the world," says Quis. "It was the first time people really heard me like that, so we put it on here too."
A G-mix of Wiz Khalifa's "Black and Yellow" is on the tape as well. Why? Because it's an incredible song, that's why. It's everywhere. The pastor at our church actually made his own rendition ("God and Jesus"), as did our sons ("Buzz and Woody") and our mother ("You haven't called me in three weeks. Call me. Maybe if I was one of those rappers you'd call me back.").
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Our mother left her version on our voicemail on Tuesday. It's the worst version we've heard yet. She didn't even try to match the cadence. And she sounded like she was crying during part of it.