Curren$y: School of Botany & Aviation

With a 504 Boyz album out for the past nine years, hit singles and a number of retail projects since, Spitta is simply a veteran with more musical energy than most teenagers.

While Eminem, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, T.I. and Kanye West remain Rap superstars, the last two years of Hip Hop have welcomed some new blood to the conversation. Artists like Drake, Wiz Khalifa, Nicki Minaj have released major label debut albums, and conquered the charts, the radio and become household names. Others are patiently waiting, and releasing project after project on independent labels, still to be labeled "new artists."

HipHopDX wanted to acknowledge five of these hard working, super talented new artists, that in actuality, aren't so new at all. Some have major label backing now, others remain in the underground grind. While Hip Hop continuously (and rightfully so) celebrates freshmen talent, DX opted to knight five hand-selected emcees, chosen by members of our editorial staff, that we want to be looked at as great artists, nothing new about it.

From May 23 through May 27, HipHopDX will post these celebratory editorial pieces each day, unveiling our mystery picks. Do you agree with the choices? Do you agree that they're beyond the "new artist" stigma? Weigh in, starting today.

Curren$y: Class of 2002, School of Botany & Aviation

Truth be told, I’ve never smoked weed. Ever. In my close to 10 years of Hip Hop journalism, most people’s favorite rappers have passed me the Dutch and I passed it right back. There’s no religious or moral obligation I’m upholding. It’s just not my thing. However, last month I interviewed Curren$y about kush for XXL’s April issue and I swear he’s the first artist who ever had me considering it. Why, you ask? Because he spoke so passionately about smoking and was so knowledgeable about the strains of weed that I was like, “Well damn, there must be some utility in weed by the way he’s speaking about it.” That’s clearly not enough to name anyone a “graduate” of anything (maybe graduating from a casual smoker to an addict), but Spitta’s persistence in this game in spite of being high all day could legitimately make him the poster child for the oxymoronic title of Motivated Pothead.

I first met Curren$y back in 2007 for Bridgez magazine’s (shout out to Ariel and Charlie) third issue. Back then he was wielding a skateboard and slightly salty that newcomer Lupe Fiasco made such a big debut (“Kick Push”) solely based upon something Curren$y’s been doing for fun for years. He also questioned the validity of Lupe’s skateboarding lifestyle. Curren$y’s cousin is skateboarding superstar Terry Kennedy, who at the time was Captain of Pharrell’s Ice Cream Skate Team. I asked Spitta if he’d ever trade in the mic for a skateboard. “Nah,” he said. “They pay skaters to skate. They pay me to rap.” It was around this time that Lil Wayne began talking about Curren$y like he was the next big thing despite the fact that Spitta was signed to Cash Money since 2004. The whole Young Money thing was an embryo approaching fetus status and Curren$y was one of the only rappers being touted as a star of Lil Wayne’s brainchild. Curren$y was previously a No Limit soldier back in 2002 as part of the 504 Boyz and was a big deal in the Southern Rap circuit. Our Bridgez interview detailed how he couldn’t even walk around the local mall without being mobbed by fans. Two years prior to our discussion, he lost two cars and his mother’s home to Hurricane Katrina. He was optimistic, but you could tell that disaster really affected him. He was putting the finishing touches on a brand new mixtape titled Music To Fly To, the concept deriving from his extended iPod playlist of songs he’d bump while on a long plane ride. The mixtape was eventually re-titled Life At 30,000 Feet and kicked off Curren$y’s whole flight-inspired shtick he still flies with to this day (Jet Life, Pilot Talk, etc.). Ironically enough, while discussing his life at 30,000 feet he never sounded high. In retrospect he probably was, but it definitely wasn’t as noticeable as it is when speaking to him now. I remember checking out his music and thinking, “He’s too talented to be down with Cash Money.” By the end of 2007, he parted ways with them.

When I took my post at DX in 2009 I started hearing about Curren$y again. That was during his Jet Files release, but I kept mistaking him for CurT@!n$ (artists really need to stop using characters in their names, look what happened to Ma$e). I kept referring to him as a “new” artist, simply because everyone else did. I forgot I even interviewed him. I liked his music a lot though. I was feeling his one track “Famous” and then “Lemon Kush” hit and I was like, “Who is this talented pothead?” I started digging for more of his music and came up with a bunch of mixtapes and freestyles. Tons of them. They presented a rapper who had a healthy balance of arrogance and humility, mixed with sharp-shooting lyrics that came from the laziest sounding voice I’ve ever heard. However, the rhymes were there. I finally understood why he was nicknamed “Spitta.” Upon Googling him, I found my 2007 article, ironically. Journalism fail on my behalf for forgetting, but it was then that I realized this guy was far from new. There’s always some Rap fan who will argue, “I’ve been listening to so and so for like six years!” simply because they stumbled upon a YouTube audio track that they decided was decent. We’ve all done that before. But Curren$y had a legitimately viable career for damn near a decade. Having been signed to multiple major labels, aligned with crews that for better or worse dictated the actions of an entire region, Curren$y has (for lack of a better Twitter cliché) been on his grind. It’s not everyday that an artist has the confidence to walk away from a budding empire (Young Moola, baby) in the hopes of starting his own. He has the talent to back up his ambitions, and while his post-Cash Money music has been heavily weed-inspired, it still showcases a rapper who knows what he’s talking about. I saw it when he talked about kush. He’s an aficionado of weed, and as he continues to promote his art, people will finally realize that he’s an aficionado of Rap.

For anyone unfamiliar with Spitta’s extensive catalog, simply check out his collaborative project with Alchemist titled Covert Coup , which (obviously) dropped on 4/20. That tape has a Pink Floyd quality about it, where the music is clearly inspired by chemical-induction, but the product is really pretty. The first leak on that mixtape “Ventilation” is so psychotropically pleasant that you don’t even need Spitta’s beloved kush to feel high while listening to it. It’s a balance of Alchemist’s hazy beats with Curren$y’s lazy rhyming style. He may by high as hell during the entire mixtape, but it ain’t hard to tell that Curren$y is just a laid back dude.

So why graduate him? The answer to that is why not? We’ve described artists as “seasoned” time and time again for doing a whole lot less. Hip Hop marks rappers as veterans after being on the scene for like a year. That’s a sometimes-accurate number to go by, considering some rappers’ careers only last that long. However, in Curren$y’s case he’s deserving of the transition. He’s put in the work (most of the time under the influence which is very difficult to do), continuously gaining new fans. When I interviewed Curren$y for MSN Music, I asked him if he gets bothered by being referred to as “new”. “I’m just new to them,” he replied. He didn’t start beating his chest about 2002 or the 504 Boyz or Lil Wayne or Terry Kennedy or his skateboard or anything else. He was humble, sounding surprisingly new to the game. It’s only right to pass his tassel to the other side at this point and watch him move onto his Masters and PhD.

Just think, had Curren$y never jumped from the Young Money ship, he might’ve been Drake. He might have also been Cory Gunz. Then again, he could have been any other member of Young Money that is already close to falling into oblivion. But no, he chose to man his own destiny and the results have proven positive. The irony of it all is that someone somewhere thinks Drake has been in the game longer than Curren$y has. To those people I say this: Curren$y was making albums while Drake was still wheeling around DeGrassi. Put that kush in your pipe and smoke it.

 

Purchase Music by Curren$y

Kathy Iandoli is HipHopDX's Music Editor and has been writing about music professionally since 2002. In addition to DX, she has written for XXL, VIBE, The Source, MSN Music and MTV News. She lives in New Jersey.

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43 Comments

  • Anonymous

    this is wort written editorial ive seen on here in awhile, this chick is a stale quief and shouldnt be in hiphop. jet life.

  • G5

    Glad yall gave a real artist some props DX. Pilot Talk 1 & 2 are classics and two of the best albums to drop last year so he definitely deserves it. His mixtape game is legendary status as well. Smokee Robinson, Covert Coup, Return to the Winners Circle, The Cookin Soul project, 30,000 Feet, Independence Day etc... Dude is ill.

  • Anonymous

    http://www.youtube.com/user/305ilovemia#p/u/8/T40-BKejctU BEWARE MUTHAFUKA AND ENTER AT YOUR RISK MUSIC NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ITS EFFECTS b***h

  • wouzi

    CONGRATS TO MA NIGGA SPITTA CUZ HE DESERVE TO SHINE N BECOME ONE OF THE BIGGEST SUPERSTARS IN THE GAME. I'M GLAD HE DIDN'T SELL OUT

  • ASEE

    If it wasn't for Pilot Talk 2 I wouldn't co-sign this, but that album solidified his emcee status for me. It's got a consistent sequence and flow--some dope chilling at night with a blunt music. Curren$y isn't a really lyrical emcee. He's about that VIBE man. He makes ill mood music.

  • KushFace818

    its about time somebody gives curren$y some respect he is in my eyes one of the best and will be remebered as the realest rapper of all time...jet life jet life... till the next life

  • nathan

    jets f.o.o, currency def deserves this.

  • dark man x

    dude cant hold my attention. he has no mic prescence. his flow is boring.... NEXT!

  • Mumbles

    Spitta is FINALLY getting acknowledged for his music.. his beats are on point. his lyrics are on point. he pumps out music, and every mixtape and album is QUALITY...he has it both quality and quantity of music.. dont know many rappers out there that u can honestly say that about. second... it kinda speaks to Curren$y when you can read an article about a rapper these days anywhere and the comment boards and filled up with people talking shit.. i haven't seen one comment yet up to this post where anybody has anything negative to say... Curren$y is killing it right now. flat out. J.E.T.S Fool!!!!! (Just Enjoy This Shit!!!)

  • Anonymous

    reks and currensy are not on the same level

    • Anonymous

      Reks has no character. If you wanna listen to so called real hip hop you made BIG mistake listening to Spitta. Spitta is not for oldschool minded, he is creating something new and we want something new.

    • Anonymous

      Reks. More content, real substance, better wordplay, everything about his writing game shits on Currensy. Plus, Reks switches his flow every time and is much more ferocious.

    • homer422

      Well then whose better?

  • Anonymous

    This is a great concept for a series, and this Curren$y profile is the best article I've read on here in a long time (waaay more character than the editorial on REKS, although both are equally fitting for this series). Any chance of Meek making it on here? He doesn't fit the mold established thus far, but the dude has been a YouTube sensation for at least 5 years now; probably would have blown up a lot earlier had he not done time. Just a thought.

  • Chad

    It's a real shame people don't understand how much lyrical power & potential Mr.Shante a.k.a Curren$y Tha Hot_$pitta holds. "Life @ 30000.Ft" definitely changed his game up leading to bigger & better tapes such as "Independence Day". Let's also not forget he dropped about 6 tapes in 2008 #hardwork As of 2011, we're definitely anticipating for the pending projects he has in store (MCC, P.Talk 3, Weekend @ Burnies etc). Hopefully Wiz Khalifa & Spitta will come together again to form another collaboration_tape, as "How Fly" was a DEFINITE game changer in Hiphop. Much respect Spitta, Representing J.E.T.S_AFRICA! [Just.Enjoy.This.Sh*t]

  • Moses Esan

    Great Article, One of the best i have read on this site. Curren$y is definitely doing his thing, mixtape after mixtape, album after album. Its rather impressive.

  • chris

    If u missed the spitta mixtape takeover u not a fan just yet. Got life at 30,000ft straight outta dude's hands and since then month afta month the homie killed it with somethin new. Go find 'higher than 30,000 ft' or 'fin...' or bettayet a fucking classic 'fast times and ridgemont fly' u lil niggas don't know shit yet. And another thing stop advertising another nigga career in the comments, obviously we don't give a fuck about them so stfu

  • Thomas Gregersen

    Dope reading. Been a die hard fan of curren$y ever since I heard breakfast a while back. Remember hearing him on some old cash money (the carter II). Didn't know he used to be part of the 504 boyz though. Nice to see this dude getting some recognition.

  • Bowski

    I most definitely agree w/Spitta being part of this list. He's been churning out some of the dopest quality (no pun intended) of hip hop music lately. He's in his own lane for real, and I just learnt a couple of new things about him in this article...

  • Binagwaho Bg Gakunju

    I remember last year when really wanted to change away from mainstream hip-pop garbage and heard Michael Knight. Then, i downloaded Pilot Talk, and after that the whole concept of someone being a RAPPER rather than a hip-hop ARTIST finally sunk in. I wish more people i knew who are so called 'hip-hop fans' could appreciate his music, as well as the way he pioneered his own direction and believed in himself. My favorite quote of his is "In order to change the game, i couldn't do it from down in the underground. Now that i'm signed (to a major label) i can let everybody know before i take over the game and speed past them.' #JetLife

  • fuck u

    this pice of shit web site betta put chip tha ripper up there or i know somin

  • @Manolo_VMG

    dope post...keep up the good work...and yes Spitta is #1 in the game riight now..YEA I SAID IT. SPITTA > Lil Wayne, Drake, Nicki, etc, etc...Covert Coup is an instant classic, no doubt about it, as was Pilot Talk 1 and 2, Smokee Robinson, How Fly, etc...

  • Anonymous

    Might be one of my favorite series. Major respect for DX to put the attention on underrated artists who really deserve it. This article is very well written, can't wait for the next ones, that made up for that horrible Nas editorial (i know it wasn't some of DX's authors who wrote it, but still). Keep up the good work, Hip Hop needs it.

  • Anonymous

    never knew curren$y was in the 504 boyz until about a month ago, always been a fan of this dudes music since this is not a mixtape

  • chris

    YES! i loved the editorial, and curren$y is one of the best rappers in the game right now. Covert Coup was excellent, and even going way way back to his first mixtapes, they were dope as hell. jet life to the next life!

  • MACK MIZZLE

    search YABOYROBOLINE on youtube.. his music blowing up, artist in need of attention. please go check him out! 216 ohio

  • Pablo Escobar

    Quality Editorials HIpHopDX; great work. Staying up to par; I'm loving it...... Covert Coup consolidated his status as a innovator/quality artist

  • W

    Good to see a truly knowledgeable pothead rapper. Half the niggas don't even blaze but they be rappin bout the shit, ie jay n 50

  • spitta

    pilot talk,pilot talk 2, this is not a mixtape,this is a mixtape, how fly,jet files, covert coup.....all 2000's classics

  • Anonymous

    Dope article and week long series. Look forward to seeing the rest

  • NJ

    Love these articles, good to see HHDX thinking outside the box.

  • Primevida Vida

    http://www.primevidaent.com http://www.wsctworldwide.com http://www.theamarigroup.com @Primevida @DJEEZS @WSCTRadio @theamarigroup”

  • Primevida Vida

    http://www.wsctworldwide.com/

  • gregory

    I hated Curren$y until Coverts & Coups. Muscle Car Chronicles, can't wait. I might buy some of these old ones. I had no idea dude was a 504 Boyz cat.

  • Guest

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXKOM6LaHZw We Killin It - Barton Block