Image via LUCKI/Instagram
Yousef Srour says it’s Oppenheimer before Barbie if you want to leave the movies with a sliver of hope in the future of humanity.
As a slightly off-tune guitar begins Lucki’s newest tape, s*x m*ney dr*gs, the warped pitch of the steel strings brings to mind moments of flustered whimsy from Spongebob Squarepants. Where others might see comedy, LUCKI contemplates tragedy. Before the hi-hats and claps even begin his verse, Tune sighs a preview of his incoming verse: “I gave a stripper the best of me.” LUCKI comes off as a defeatist, failing in even the most unlikely scenarios. His voice is drowsy, growing more confident with each bar, until he finally begins dialogue with the 808s, matching the syncopation of the hi-hats, giving the bass enough room to speak for itself.
As the fifth anniversary of Swimming approaches, a B-side that never made the album has emerged. “Inertia” features a look at Mac’s closeted lair of nautically-fluid synthesizers and whirly electric keyboards as Thundercat’s six-stringed bass hangs low and pulsates along in the background. The beat glistens, relieved of any vocals outside of Mac Miller’s stream of consciousness while looping the beat. The rapping comes out of nowhere, jolting the synths to life. He raps about inertia while rapping as if the speed of his voice itself was unstoppable. It’s three minutes of punctuated bars, relaxed and grateful, using that same inertia to blow through the internal and external conflicts that once blocked Mac’s peace of mind. And of course, as soon as he’s done rapping, the smile he had been holding in releases, flashing his teeth at the camera and sharing his warmth.
“Everybody Killa Anthem” is the greatest posse cut of the 2010s. One of the earliest videos from what had been a group of Stockton newcomers featured verses from Young Slo-Be, EBK Young Joc, Skeamy Ru, EBK Juvie, EBK Trey Blood, EBK Jaaybo, EBK Osama, EBK Paywes, and a Bris cameo in the music video. Every single verse is a deadly twist on the conveyor belt in a slaughterhouse; screams try to break out from the instrumental, haunting like the ghouls that had once had a choice encounter with any member of EBK. Phaser-like hi-hats and dog barks bite each of the crew member’s verses as they lay their claim to the throne. In his last verse on the first iteration of his Slo-Be Bryant mixtape series, Slo-Be is irreverent and acknowledges his heir to the throne, mumbling “21-double-0” at the tail end of his verse to stamp Nightingale Avenue on this monumental piece of history.
Young Slo-Be could turn anything sinister. Sped-up and hushed, the R&B sample plays like a lullaby, patiently awaiting your slumber. Slo-Be acts faster than your traditional Freddy Krueger; before you even doze off, the 808s thump amidst a clamor of rim shots, hi-hats, and the pews of space-guns. Slo-Be’s whispers cut through it all, slicing up the beat with his patented blend of sharp distrust and vindication. Long live both Stockton and all of hip-hop’s finest: Young Slo-Be. 2-1.