Reviewed: Curren$y’s Pilot Talk II
At times he appears a midlevel rapper from New Orleans, content to rhyme "mimosa" with "Testarossa" and dispense insight about the usual hip-hop fanfare. Yet sans fanfare.
"I sent her to the Waffle House with an order from the car" sticks out as a prime instance of groupie recounting. Generous with his boys ("I'm not trippin' pimpin' you can pay me for it when you get it"), Curren$y lets them drop guest verses that bleed together and fail to stand out.
Pilot Talk II—the follow-up to this summer's more dynamic and instantly commanding Pilot Talk—is an intensely labored-on rap album, a high-grade slab of word-association-based, drug-induced rap. For all the lazy-eyed, life-of-a-don musings, the slick-talking verses come thick and winding. A Michael Jordan reference goes to delectable extremes: "legendary layup Jordan with the right-left switch, hangtime, hang-glide, stir-fried, Changy eyes, Shanghai," Curren$y rhymes.
He's funny and enjoys snacks, weed, and rapping about snacks and weed. But unlike, say, Devin the Dude, whose legacy is linked to and fermented in THC, Curren$y crafts intricate patterns for sober folk who love a good one-liner: "early morning exercise: I'm doing kush-ups."
He'll name two-minute songs after states of mind: "Montreux" is titled for an iconic Marvin Gaye concert. I know this because he raps, "This is that Marvin Gaye, 1980, Live at The Montreux shit." It's a flashy night of power accented with purple smoke, elevator doors, stars abounding, riding in orange-leather coups while wearing orange suits, and, most importantly, a triumphant, horn-stabbed beat. "Famous" isn't about wealth and domination, it's about feeling famous while penning lyrics on napkins and zoning out in the back of a first-class cabin with "noise cancellation headphones."
A rapper who honed his skills amid privilege (he was signed to No Limit Records before it crumbled, and briefly to Lil Wayne's Young Money imprint), he's today a viable ace in peak form lacking an audience.
Raekwon is a welcome contributor, and Ski Beatz (veteran producer of Reasonable Doubt fame) does most of the programming, but the next most famous guest dropped the least interesting verse on "Make 'Em Say Uhh." Label woes and the "dozens of songs locked away, rotten in a vault" are briefly addressed but the focus is on the present's good times.
Pilot Talk II carries an edge and a subtle theme about being in the driver's seat, making your future. Fill a jacuzzi with groupies and make it a bird bath, sure, but do it on your own merits.
Kanye West just released a masterpiece, but throughout the thing West is a boorish loon undone by seeping paranoia. It's hard to relate when he's stuntin' on a jumbotron. Fitting that, Curren$y makes it a point to say, "I don't kick it with rappers they be hustlin' backwards." Perhaps it's because Curren$y is simply a dude that raps, we ignore his social media requests but hope his dreams materialize because he was a great camp counselor. I'd love to burn a jay with Curren$y and play NBA Live.