Arts Desk

Yung Gleesh Is a Self-Proclaimed “Shitbag,” Still Raps Very Well

Yung Gleesh, aka Boogie and a former member of the TOB braintrust responsible for this cranking crankage, is a shitbag. In fact, he has been for some time, ever since he was "yay old" and "robbing niggas for their play-doh".

At least that's what he confesses in his newest project, Cleansides Finest, a trap/based (based trap?) jacking-for-beats mixtape full of self-loathing, grandiose dope boasting, and maybe the last supportive Nick Young reference D.C. is going to hear. (McGee, you will be missed.)

The obvious connection on first exposure is that Gleesh draws, as does a whole new generation of young rappers, from the bottomless well that is Lil B, mostly because Gleesh raps in disaffected, guttural croaks, occupying the same tonal range as the Based God himself.

But where Lil B is the all-inclusive Internet muse seemingly friends with everyone in 2012, Yung Gleesh Boogie Boog is firmly rooted in the District's streets: Hence, he says "fuck you" to you, me, himself, and all of D.C. on more than one occasion. "House filled with coke head/band filled with boat head/city feelin' producers than ain't never ever produced shit/the block is filled with losers and you'll never ever do shit," he spits on "Coca Cola Flow," seconds before he cites the Constitution as legal grounds for busting a head open and causing a contusion.

The real influence here then isn't in the voice; it's Gleesh's willingness to commit to a dynamic persona that can be stretched and carved to fit stories of re-upping in Rio and the à la carte detailing of dope sizes and prices, as well as vulnerable love songs to the girl that stuck with him when he brought work home ("I love you, don't hurt me...should've never fucked me in the first place").

He jumps from exhilarating tracks celebrating the simple fact that he made it through yesterday over a beat someone in Bricksquad probably used first, to apologizing for having hit his son over an airy, ambient beat that probably appeared somewhere on a Lil B mixtape ("He ain't know no better/I ain't know no better/I was 16 but that wasn't no excuse/I was 16 I ain't know what to do"). It's a quirkiness that infuses lines like, "You're looking mighty jealous/don't antagonize the situation/feeling overzealous" with humor instead of pretense. Or his propensity to quietly slip in moments of awareness ("I'm sorry that I gotta take it/I'm not sorry that I did take it"; "Better kick off them chains and shoes boy/cause my kids gonna need some food boy/these the blues boy/but it's a true story"). Or flipping the Slutty mantra "I Dew" into "Dew I" into "Why do I?" It's wonton soup and pork and beans. It's not just a persona, it's a real human being, and if anything is concrete at the end of the tape, it's that Yung Gleesh isn't stuck with D.C.; it's the other way around.

Download: Yung Gleesh — Cleanside's Finest

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