In a world where fewer and fewer musicians, rappers especially, are selling big quantities of albums, I love seeing that cats like Curren$y are continuing to find independent success in hip-hop. And I love that Troy Ave and Joey Bada$$ were even motivated enough to argue over who was the #1 indie artist, and that hip-hop media picked it up as news. The mainstream continues to disappoint, while the underground continues to thrive. Free from corporate expectations and meddling, these artists can make music that their fans want, almost assured of success.
That’s what Curren$y has done since Pilot Talk, my introduction to his smooth, heavily sedated style of hip-hop. He knows what he does well and he does exactly that. At one point he described his sound as what a Crown Royal bag looks like, which I take to mean easy-going, elegant, and funky. That perfectly describes the best of Pilot Talk III, his latest collection of tunes suited for leisurely driving or relaxing. It’s so smooth, so chill but never drowsy, that I can’t help but enjoy it, even if it sounds monotonous at times. Songs like Get Down, Long as the Lord Say,and Lemonade Mimosas show that he can still craft fantastic chill-out anthems.
But got damn, does Pilot Talk III get monotonous! My problem is that Curren$y chose to refine his formula, rather than evolve it. His topics, girls, weed, and relaxing, aren’t especially interesting, and his writing hasn’t improved in any way that bring these topics to life more effectively than before. Listening intently for content or lyricism only left me disappointed and bored, because that’s not how anyone should listen to Curren$y, because, honestly, his rapping is just average. On the few occasions where he does try to say more, such as Opening Credits’ recollections of his path from a nobody to his current success, his writing just skims the surface, and at times is awkward. For example, he glosses over his lawsuit against Dame Dash instead of explaining it in any sort of detail: “then I tried to start a business with Damon, chalk that to the game, learned some thangs, I thought I’d earn some change.” It feels like he wanted to go deeper but held himself back at the last minute.
And … I could do without every feature here. Jadakiss and Styles P were both unimpressive, which isn’t surprising since I’ve never known them to be this laid-back. Jadakiss’s verse on Pot Jar was extremely flat and unfocused, but, in his defense, he was forced to write to one of the most boring beats on the whole album. Meanwhile, Wiz Khalifa and Riff Raff sucked as expected, but I have to give Wiz credit for trying a little bit this time.
None of this makes Pilot Talk III bad. In fact, I like a lot of it. But it’s pretty inconsistent, it’s clearly not Curren$y’s best, and he still hasn’t grown as a writer. There are plenty of good songs that expertly capture the Crown Royal bag vibe, but several songs failed that mission and end up being chores to listen to. Curren$y’s complacency and some poor choices make Pilot Talk III just another pretty good Curren$y release instead of a great hip-hop album.
Long as the Lord Say
560 XL (not even Wiz Khalifa could ruin this mood)