Curren$y is an enjoyable solo emcee, but he knows the value of finding chemistry with another act. Spitting alongside Lil Wayne after leaving No Limit helped raise the quality of his rhymes, and his How Fly mixtape with Wiz Khalifa was a strong foundation for both of their careers to reach new heights. Most recently, his last two solo albums, Pilot Talk and Pilot Talk II, rode Ski Beatz moreso to critical acclaim and fan allegiance than Spitta. It’s not a matter of one outshining the other, but of complimentary sounds and teamwork. When Spitta has a key collaborator in the studio, he’s shown the ability to form even more of a rhythm. So for his first project on his new Warner Bros. label home, it only makes sense that he’d link up with fellow piff purveyor Alchemist to drop an entire weed-inspired mixtape on 4/20.
Covert Coup shows that Curren$y and Alchemist are nearly just as potent of a duo as Spitta has been with anyone else. Alc’s soulful, murky soundbeds serve as perfect backdrops for Curren$y’s elongated, smokey rhymes. Despite over half of the songs clocking in at less than three minutes, the work manages to maintain its rhythm with Alchemist’s cohesive production. This method also works well with Curren$y’s rigid subject matter and digressive lyrics, as one or two-verse opuses are all he needs to make his point anyway. “Double 07” and “BBS” showcase mixtape Spitta in his element with stylish deliveries and punchlines, with seat-reclining instrumentals that give his rhymes room to breathe. The ultra-subdued “Smoke Break” is self-explanatory, and “Scottie Pippens” contrasts Curren$y’s staccato flow with Freddie Gibbs’ multi-syllabic agility.
Guest appearances from long-gone rap staples also give Covert Coup extra novelty. Prodigy returns from a three-year prison bid to appear on “The Type,” and his resilient rhymes about the psyches prevalent in his NYC stomping grounds sound right at home over signature Alchemist production. Former No Limit cohort Fiend also stops by to lend his baritone mic presence and plain-stated rhymes to “Blood Sweat and Gears.”
A lack of actual songwriting on Covert Coup may upset some, because Curren$y switches topics so much that the tracks come across as simply rhymes and beats instead of full songs. Still, short track lengths and strong Alchemist production helps it all go down smoothly. Curren$y succeeds here by finding another musical comrade who highlights his strengths. Sometimes, keeping the team together is just as important as stuffing the stats on your own.
DX Consensus: “FreEP” (the second highest possible praise for a mixtape).
Listen to Curren$y & Alchemist Covert Coup