Time will tell if Jet Life rappers can fly

Eli Watson

New Orleans’s Curren$y has had a busy year. From performing at this year’s South By Southwest to releasing a handful of mixtapes and albums, the chilled-out, newfound leader of stoner rap is anything but lethargic. Never taking a break, Curren$y returns with Jet World Order, a compilation album that shows Curren$y transitioning from hip-hop underdog to rising mogul, accompanied by an assortment of Jet Life Recordings label mates.

Curren$y’s strengths lie in his vocal delivery. Through combination of his distinguishable southern drawl and relaxed demeanor, Curren$y attacks like stoner rap godfather Snoop Dogg. There’s a sense of intimidation that contributes to the rapper’s calmly assertive voice. “1st Place” features soulful guitars, keys that crescendo and contributions from label-mates Trademark Da Skydiver and Young Roddy. “Paper on my mind/doing business with whoever’s payin’ the most,” declares Trademark Da Skydiver, followed by a guest appearance from Cool Kids’ Mikey Rocks.

“Paper Habits” stands out with its funky bass lines and the conversation-like delivery between Young Roddy and Trademark Da Skydiver. “Now my buzz hot like my winters be,” says Young Roddy, his youthful vigor refreshing, accompanied by Trademark Da Skydiver’s raspy declarations of wealth and smoking the best kinds of weed.

“Blow Up” explodes with fuzzy, dirty-south synths, staccato hi-hat cymbals and snare drums and rapid-fire rhymes from Young Roddy and Trademark. “It’s guerrilla warfare so I load up,” says Roddy, while Trademark raps that his New Orleans upbringing made him the man he is.

Unlike his contemporaries, Curren$y realizes that quality over quantity is the best method of success. Although there is not much variation between the artists (Jet-Life accomplices Smoke DZA, Street Wiz, Fiend and Corner Boy P make appearances as well), each one contributes in their own way, resulting in a collaborative effort that is cohesive and smooth.

The production values, like most releases from Curren$y, are nearly flawless. Like Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, Curren$y’s intricate sampling helps emphasize the marijuana rhymes of Curren$y and his Jet-Life crew.

The group still has room for improvement: Young Roddy and Trademark’s confident boasts are not yet up to par with Curren$y’s. Where Curren$y effortlessly weaves rhymes with narratives and aspirations of gaining more notoriety, Young Roddy and Trademark are left out at times, their delivery revolving around one subject.

Jet World Order is an appetizer that will hopefully be followed up by an even better collaborative effort as the Jet-Life crew begins to solidify itself as one of hip-hop’s new voices. The true challenge will be whether the group can become an integral part of Curren$y’s growing label, or remain indistinguishable clones of their commander.

Printed on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 as: Stoner rapper Curren$y flies ahead in Jet Life