Curren$y - New Jet City (Mixtape Review)

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A cluttered guest list prevents "New Jet City" from finding the cohesion of previous efforts, and the finest moments come when Spitta flies solo.

Curren$y has always maintained a relentless release schedule. The New Orleans emcee is certainly one of the responsible parties for blurring the distinctions between albums and mixtapes with his several-projects-a-year quota. This is obviously something not lost on Spitta; his first official album was called This Ain’t No Mixtape. Several years later, it seems clear that some of his most highly regarded work has since come packaged in the form of free releases.

One of the things that has made Curren$y’s output not feel oversaturated is the calculated partnerships he’s built with sound-specific producers for individual releases. His utility as a rapper may not be in his versatility—though he does show a consistent willingness to play with and switch up his flow—but in his reliability. No matter what producer he has teamed up with that day, Spitta has established a surefire and signature, laid-back but driven delivery. And while Curren$y’s lyrics rarely stray from weed, women, booze and cars, his continual self-branding, Jet Life, has established an expectation for fans that this is what he’s about.

In 2012, shortly before releasing his first major label debut in The Stoned Immaculate, Curren$y told HipHopDX that it felt like his first “studio album.” The difference between a project like The Stoned Immaculate and his collaborative efforts with single producers is clear. And while Curren$y managed a balanced final product with Immaculate, many would argue that his finest moments come in the less feature-heavy and more cohesive records he’s released as a duo with Monsta Beatz, Ski Beatz, Alchemist (Covert Coup) or Harry Fraud (Cigarette Boats).

Unfortunately, Spitta’s latest mixtape release fails to find the balance and cohesion he did with his first Warner Bros. album. If anything, New Jet City reads like a cautionary tale for the woes of obligatory features and trying to do too much at once. There are certainly moments on New Jet City that are quintessential Curren$y. And, to be fair, his cadence and delivery never stutter here and always sound on point. But the mixtape sometimes feels like a major label signee trying to cover all the bases. In some ways all of this makes New Jet City a more accessible project. With features from Rick Ross, Jadakiss, French Montana and more, there is plenty of potential here for Curren$y to build from towards an even more commercially successful second major label release.

Thankfully, Curren$y hasn’t compromised his ear for fine production. Still, and this is in light of his established record of making particularly unified sounding projects, there’s a slightly patchy quality to the tracklist. The mixtape opens up well with Curren$y rapping over a largely unadulterated and simple loop for the title track. Statik Selektah’s production and nuanced drums on the second song, “Clear,” featuring Jadakiss, are a standout on the mixtape. Throughout however, the finest moments expectantly come when Spitta flies solo. The features don’t all feel forced. But even for someone who rarely leaves his comfort zone, “Bitch Get Up” featuring Juvenile and “These Bitches” featuring French Montana both end up feeling a little stale. New Jet City closes with the same beat it opens with except instead of another Curren$y solo verse “New Program” finds Young Roddy with all the shine. In the end, it’s a nice effect to fade out to, and conceptually, it feels like Curren$y is aiming to open up the same door he has for himself for the whole Jet Life Recordings roster. There are several tracks worth any Curren$y fan’s time on New Jet City but just as many worth glazing over. If 2013 is anything like the last several years, there will be plenty more Curren$y material to talk about at the end of the year.

DX Consensus: "EP Worthy"

Listen to New Jet City by Curren$y.

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