Listening to Curren$y is like hearing southern Hip Hop’s evolution. He possesses that southern drawl, lives the southern lifestyle, but lyrically has advanced beyond the stereotypes that once unfairly plagued the region. The man who got his start on Master P’s No Limit Records before another lengthy tenure on Young Money’s roster, brings forth his debut, Pilot Talk. It’s a project that came about despite the label changes, politics and other difficulties, and Curren$y doesn’t take his long-awaited opportunity for granted. Without the help of Lil Wayne or P, the man also known as Spitta has built his own buzz up with blogs and mixtapes, clear to a Def Jam-distributed debut. Now, carrying the Roc-A-Fella torch into a new decade, Pilot Talk will reveal if the hard work translates to a great album.

It must be said Curren$y has impeccable taste in creating his ensemble cast. The artist features contributions from, Mos Def, Jay Electronica, Snoop Dogg, Devin the Dude, Big K.R.I.T. and others. Though each emcee represents a different aspect of Hip Hop, Curren$y brings the artists together and weaves them throughout a rather cohesive effort. This is in part due to Ski Beatz handling the bulk of the production. He sets the album off with “Example,” a track that needs no guest spots. When he spits “I am an example / Of when you quit being afraid to gamble” is by no means complex, but it is a lyric that resonates with Hip Hop fans that lust for creativity.

The remainder of the album doesn’t exactly live up to the lyric, but the artist does well to avoid cliché topics while coming across genuine. A track like “Audio Dope 2” is a direct descendant of Eric B. & Rakim’s “Microphone Fiend,” where an emcee spits passionately about musical addiction. Though it most certainly won’t be confused for the legendary duo’s classic cut, it should be commended for its retro approach. The Devin the Dude influence is apparent as well. Curren$y never lets you forget that he likes to partake in Devin’s favorite pastime, but that substance isn’t the only substance that his music possesses. This balance makes Dame Dash’s latest Rap protege artist marketable, and respected. He can sell “Chilled Coughphee” with Devin the Dude and still sound genuine on “The Day” .

True to form, Jay Electronica steals the show. He brings the best out of Curren$y and absolutely obliterates the verse. With a collection of bars that maybe the best display of lyricism this year Jay Electronica starts the verse with  “My mama told me always call a spade a spade / Be like Chuck D, never be like flavor Flav…” and then goes to detail the appeal of the hype man. It’s classic Hip Hop, only to be followed by “I pray this flow is dumb enough / I pray my heart is DMC and Reverend Run enough / ‘Cause I’ma throw my number up / I’ma throw some chicken bones and feathers on a hundred bucks / And summon up the thunder what / The voodoo man is coming, bruh / You can’t see the forest for trees / It’s okay, I got my jigsaw and my lumber truck / Tell them boys that their run is up.”  It’s a brave selection of a guest spot for an artist like Curren$y. The New Orleans connection aside, the addition of Jay Electronica to the project is something that Curren$y should be commended for. He sacrifices the inevitable comparison of verses and quality for the sake of art. Simply said, Pilot Talk is better because of the gamble Curren$y takes.

There are some mishaps throughout the project. An awful guest spot sees Snoop Dogg seemingly freestyling through his verse on “Seat Change.” Though he has a three or four bar moment of magic, the appeal quickly disappears. “King Kong” hears futuristic production that is plagued by an awful, smoked-stupid hook. “Roasted” sounds more like a mixtape cut rather than a track that should make an album distributed by Def Jam. The production is rather solid throughout with it seldom becoming great or average. The word fringe fits the project perfectly. A good portion of the album is on the fringe of being great or forgettable.

Curren$y’s major label debut is hopefully a sign of good things to come from the artist. Bouncing from boutique to boutique, Curren$y finally delivers on Def Jam. It won’t be mistaken as one of the year’s best albums, but it is a solid debut from a 29 year-old that brilliantly connects with younger fans. An emcee with a well-balanced arsenal and who appears to be passionate about their craft is always a welcomed addition to the culture. Doubters can officially erase the “never had an official album released” or “mixtape rapper” slight from there vocabulary when describing Curren$y. Surrounded by experts who know music and the industry, Spitta’s career is on the runway, and Pilot Talk is his way of preparing all parties involved that he isn’t afraid to take a gamble to be great.