Genre: Underground Rap
Favorite Tracks: “Half Moon Mornings,” “No Yeast (feat. Boldy James),” “Whale Watching (feat. Styles P),” “The Tonight Show”
Few listeners would laud New Orleans underground mainstay Curren$y as their favorite rapper, or even one of the best rappers of today. That’s not a bad thing—not everyone can be the best and not everyone is best served by tossing empty claims to thrones clearly held by other artists. Instead, Curren$y operates with a refreshing clarity of purpose and a detail-oriented approach to the structure that surrounds his deliberate, workmanlike raps. CONTINUANCE, his third collaborative project with legendary producer the Alchemist, further refines an already airtight approach, delivering a satisfying, if predictable, project that slots among the prolific rapper’s best offerings.
Curren$y understands the importance of branding and consistency better than most musical artists, especially those without the support of a marketing army to offload the responsibility of building and maintaining that brand. He moves with the reliability of a metronome, dropping projects with stunning regularity. Thematically, there isn’t a great deal separating each. Weed, upward economic mobility, and his extensive car collection remain the primary subjects of his tracks, and one shouldn’t show up expecting much of a departure from the well-worn path on CONTINUANCE or any other Curren$y tape. The volume approach to rap is often criticized for deemphasizing the impact of each project, and it’s certainly true that few Curren$y projects stand out, positively or negatively. Taken as part of the broader strategy of an independent artist, however, the pieces make more sense; he is always there, steadily dropping features, new solo and collaborative tapes and music videos. He is also a peerless networker, securing regular contributions from a host of elite producers and a cadre of rising stars and veteran rappers. A 20-year career and a seat in Alc’s inner pantheon are the fruits this approach has borne, and while each album may fail to distinguish itself from those in his back catalog, these offerings sport enough unique qualities to engage listeners and create loyal fans.
Other members of the Alchemist’s crew occupy a different space than Curren$y, which makes their combined efforts an interesting opportunity to see Alc in a more relaxed environment. He seems to relish the opportunity to step back from the gritty, menacing scenes he stages for Conway the Machine or Boldy James, or the off-kilter weirdness preferred by Earl Sweatshirt. These furnish Curren$y with a languid, sepia-toned soundscape that would be more at home wafting from the speakers of a pontoon boat on a lake rather than booming out the rolled down windows of a Bentley.
Highlights include the sunny psychedelia of intro “Half Moon Mornings” and the wistful vocal trills backing “No Yeast,” which features perhaps the sunniest Boldy James appearance ever. His verse is typically street-oriented, but it’s delivered with an unhurried cadence that suggests a deep comfort alongside Curren$y, who comes with brotherly bars which land with satisfying heft, “My n—- Boldly just flew in from the Detroit Lion’s den / Sharp as ninja stars, in these flyin’ cars, me and him”. Another is the lowkey groove on “Whale Watching,” the second ocean themed Styles P collaboration in as many years. As with Boldy, their chemistry is surprising-yet-undeniable, each offering interpolations of the same phrases and referencing their shared history. These minor touches are Curren$y specialties, elevating his features above the disconnected verses that grace other rap tracks, so clearly emailed back and forth with the ostensible collaborators never coming close to meeting in the booth. Delightful, unexpected appearances from Mobb Deep’s Havoc and Detroit up-and-comer Babyface Ray round out other notable appearances.
There isn’t much to complain about on CONTINUANCE, owed in large part to the fact the album treads very little new ground. Tracks like “Half Moon Mornings” and “The Tonight Show” are solid, if underbaked, consisting of little more than single verses which don’t quite do the verdant beats justice. “Obsessed” and “The Final Board” fail to generate any momentum, and both catch Curren$y leaning a little too far into his laconic drawl, sounding more like he just woke up than like he’s focused on rapping. This crop of beats, while beautiful, also lack some of the variety found on previous tapes like COVERT COUP, but one could reliably argue this is just Curren$y knowing exactly where his lane is and how to maximize his strengths. So while CONTINUANCE won’t blow anyone away or mark a bold new step for either artist, it’s another well-executed addition to two wildly prolific, accomplished careers.