Image via My Favorite Color/Instagram

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Casey Taylor is micro-dosing Aleve throughout the day and evening.

When Sam Willis left Pittsburgh for Los Angeles, he left in a little shitty white Nissan Versa that he made fun of on Instagram videos for self-effacing self-promotion. The Nissan makes an appearance on the rapper’s latest set of singles (Willis raps under moniker My Favorite Color) in the Car Pack EP in an eponymous track, as Willis dances over NES synthesizers that sound like pink lemonade. It’s been a quiet couple of years since his debut album, with only a handful of singles trickling out as the rapper experiments with new directions after the coming of age debut that was mostly about exorcizing lingering spirits from the industrial abandonment of southwestern Pennsylvania.

For the uninitiated, My Favorite Color is a relatively new addition to the rap scene, cutting his teeth in Pittsburgh with an eye towards Mac Miller’s tragically vacated throne. Signed to Rostrum Records and managed by Miller’s right hand man, Quentin Chandler, the rapper ascended quickly in the city with a reputation for energetic, angry live performances that were occasionally interrupted by his more introspective band-backed arrangements. Originally a Compton native, Willis is no stranger to street life and brings a hardened edge to the mellow Mac-esque sound, like a merger between the disaffected Miller and Pittsburgh’s tragically slain trap lyricist, Jimmy Wopo.

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Since his 2020 debut LP, Velma, Willis has expressed esoteric fascination with the aesthetics of fame; the limits of meritocracy and material success. Car Pack is no different, a two-track EP that opens with a tune that echoes of Ice Cube’s most memorably good day after gobbling up 100mg of ganja gummy. “Pink Lac” muses about cotton candy Cadillacs with Willis’ signature uneasy boasting – this time about stealing someone’s girl right after bemoaning that he has no time for old friends or new pursuits. The angry rapid fire freestyles from the Pittsburgh days are gone, replaced by a sort of upbeat aimlessness, like floating in an infinity pool at a function you’d rather not be at. “Pink Lac” sounds like a search for an aesthetic ideal that no longer exists but is still desirable; the markers of success imparted on us in youth that leave lasting impressions, only to become ethereal symbols of time past.

“Nissan” ties a bow on the 1-2 combination, rapping about his starter car in place of youth gone by. There’s perhaps no American iconography with a more lasting and flexible metaphor than the automobile, and Car Pack uses it not as an aspirational or foreboding symbol but as one of inevitability. Unlike Bugattis and Maseratis and other foreign speed demons that dominate trap and fast lane rap, My Favorite Color aspires to be the wavy American slowrider. The boat. The Cadillac drives slow because it’s got nowhere else to be, because the guy behind the wheel already has everything he needs. It’s a nice fantasy, like most of the stuff we like in America.

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