New York Times reviewed Curren$y’s “Pilot Talk” today. Article after the jump.
(DD172/Island Def Jam)
The New Orleans rapper Currensy was once a member of the Master P affiliates the 504 Boyz, and was later signed to Lil Wayne’s Young Money Records. So it comes as a surprise that on his major label debut, “Pilot Talk,” what comes to mind far more quickly than anything Southern is the reign of mid-1990s jazzbos Digable Planets.
That’s because Currensy is the second most important person on this album: the first is Ski Beatz, a long-dormant refugee of that era, who produced almost the entire record. A street-oriented classicist, he was responsible for several dank songs on Jay-Z’s 1996 debut, “Reasonable Doubt,” and almost all of the 1997 Camp Lo debut, “Uptown Saturday Night,” which exploded with sunbursts of orchestral soul. That record feels like the template for the formidable and lush “Pilot Talk,” full of braying guitars, seductive, plangent keyboards and crisp drums, and purportedly free of samples. “Audio Dope II” is sluggish and hard all at once; “Chilled Coughphee” sounds like theme music for a lost ’70s black sitcom; and several songs recall Grover Washington Jr.
And then there’s Currensy, who raps in tight clusters of syllables that sound smooth but say little. Mainly he’s interested in getting high — “That killer weed/Alfred Hitchcock in the Ziploc,” he raps over soft-soul piano on “The Hangover” — and, occasionally, getting high with other people. Still, many of his friends, under the influence or not, perform better: Currensy is out-rapped by several guests here, including Big K.R.I.T. on “Skybourne” and Jay Electronica on “The Day.”
He sounds less hungry than he has on any of the several mix-tapes and independent albums he has released to this point. Maybe he’s been lounging too much at a downtown Manhattan fixture that’s a long way from New Orleans. “TriBeCa at Bubby’s/I’m enjoying the lemon press,” Currensy raps. “Not that Minute Maid,” he cautions, adding, “They squeeze these lemons theyself.”