Curren$y, Pilot Talk (July 13, 2010)
Curren$y’s debut album, Pilot Talk, is pure braggadocio, with rhymes about fancy cars and free-flowing liquor and free-loving women. The music, loving produced and arranged by Ski Beatz, sounds like an update of Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, all the way down to the New York session musicians recruited to crank out mellow grooves. Curren$y clearly made it on blunted terms: the album artwork depicts a lone airplane flying over a landscape of lush green marijuana foliage. So Pilot Talk is like weed talk, with several narratives hidden underneath the stoner blather. On “Example,” Curren$y claims “reimbursement for paid dues,” then claims, “I am an example of what can happen when you quit being afraid to gamble.” For “Seat Change,” he mocks girls who want to “ride with a G” but “somewhere along the line she fucked up and realized she lost her seat.” His lines are pimp slick but thankfully shorn of delusion. When he flips a bevy of yeyo metaphors for “Audio Dope,” he clearly does it in service of the concept, not to build a farcical image of himself as a drug kingpin. The image is of a neighborhood (or, more accurately, Internet) baller. Pilot Talk boasts the cream of the blog rap crop, including Mikey Rocks from the Cool Kids, Big K.R.I.T. and Jay Electronica (who sharply compares Flavor Flav’s signature bowtie to the Nation of Islam’s attire). Even much-beloved weed rapper Devin the Dude drops a verse for “Chilled Coughphee.” A writer friend of mine, Christopher Weingarten, remarked to me that when Devin the Dude jumps in with sly wit like “I can fuck a bum up quick/ But that’s some tenth grade shit,” it only underscores Curren$y’s relative lack of vocal presence. Other critics have theorized that Pilot Talk’s artistic triumph is largely due to Ski Beatz’s memorable accompaniment. An NY vet whose catalog ranges from membership in early 90s woulda-beens Original Flavor to credits on Jay-Z’s classic Reasonable Doubt and Camp Lo’s “Luchini AKA (This Is It),” Ski Beatz initially produced Pilot Talk’s tracks himself, and then hired talented unknowns like bassist Brady Watt to transform them into instrumental gems. True, any rapper would sound incredible against the majestic sunshine funk of “Address.” But give Curren$y credit for lodging its hook into your brain – “Still nothing changed but the address.” Released via Dame Dash’s DD172 imprint, with distribution from Universal Music Group.