(Warner Brothers) The first alluring hip-hop album of 2011 appropriately pairs the herbal notations of New Orleans’s most prolific mouthpiece, Curren$y (the hot Spitta), with the warped foliage of left-coast beat wizard the Alchemist. Coming in just under thirty minutes in length, the two have mixed a potent medicine to ignite the summer.
Hook free and tediously sewn shut by Al’s most menacing production to date, Covert Coup is a further testament to Curren$y’s versatility – having bludgeoned a motley of tunes on a combined fifteen studio albums and mix tapes over the past three years. The ten joints here are unlike any palette of kush the thirty-one year old doobie doer has ingested in his career, adding yet another notch to the belt holding his proverbial rap britches in place.
On opener “BBS,” Alchemist procures a jazzed-down, mangled guitar loop, bit by rattlesnake maracas, that drips smooth as Spitta gives a nod to his new label and twists similes in a charming homage to his Covert partner: But you can catch me on air/ when my new shit premiere/ at whatever media outlet decide to play it fair/ fuck playin’ dead, pimpin’ I’m a play the bear/ grizzly, seriously Fishburne, turn-flip Styles to Furious-ly/ this that 70s-Soul Green, Al-Chemistry/ yeah mang, been a G since Buddy Lees/ lames big tough in they jeans.
Former Alchemist collab partner and Mobb Deep alum Prodigy spews a guest verse on “The Type,” but the effortless drawl of Curren$y’s story telling overshadows the veteran as he dribbles diction like D. Rose through the crowded paint of Al’s stumbling percussion and tweaked G-funk clatter. Same way I came up/ nice guys surrounded by wolves, wild dangerous/ that’s where I gained this cool/ walk this talk, trying to duplicate and make loot/ all you do is make fools of yourselves/ underground jewels, Chester Copperpot, wilder than a wishing well/ evidence that niggas have failed.
Other standout tracks include the show stealing, double-time verse of Gary, Indiana rhymer Freddie ‘Gangsta’ Gibbs on the animalistic “Scottie Pippen.” The track opens with a lively thump and sped-up sample before morphing into minimal boom-bap percussion, stabbed by minor chords of tragedy. Sparsely draped with muffled, otherworldly shrieks, Al’s eerie opus perfectly complements Gibb’s gangbanging tales of Gary survival. A boastful Spitta is joined by former label mate and No Limit soldier Fiend, who oozes his best Gil Scott-Heron on “Blood, Sweat & Gears,’’ Alchemist’s own microwaved version of summer madness.
As Alchemist proves that his bent perception of the Golden Era will remain forever distinguishable, Curren$y continues to rev the motor of his own lexicon on Covert Coup. Despite his familiar prose: weaving weed, wheels, women and wonderful kicks, Spitta’s adaptability is undoubtedly his most admirable possession. And while these lyrical threads may not make the man, nor spark political debate, they definitely dress him befittingly - a childishly stoned, yet captivating and unruffled voice that has brought primitive style back to hip-hop. OG Jordans and Chevy cars included.