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Fly Gypsy

The Vodka & Rum Mixtape

(Fly Gypsy Music; US: 1 Sep 2009; UK: 1 Sep 2009)

The concept behind this duo’s The Vodka & Rum Mixtape intrigues. It’s a blend of beats, both new and remixed, by producer Alexei Jendayi with emcee Kowboy Kom handling vocal duties (except for the verses lifted from the likes of 2pac, Nas, Kanye West, and Lauryn Hill). As such, it’s intriguing to see if this could work—a rapper spitting alongside some likely heroes. Luckily for Fly Gypsy, this mixtape is a relative success. What also intrigues is the fact these two talented guys come from backgrounds some might not associate with hip-hop. Kom hails from Jamaica, which you can hear in his voice when he spits certain words. Think Wyclef Jean, who’s featured on here, with less of an accent and a quicker flow. As for his producer cohort, Jendayi emigrated from outside the United States from Russia. Both Fly Gypsy members are based out of Washington, D.C.

After a chance meeting at an open mic in Washington, D.C., Fly Gypsy was born. That’s how we get to The Vodka & Rum Mixtape, a title that makes sense when you consider where they were born. Homelands aside, the title also plays on the fact that this project has a smooth and uptempo party vibe, and it all starts with a fun joint in “Reasons”, which carries an early 2000s’ hip-hop vibe. A big reason for that is Jendayi laces a beat similar to Kanye West’s from that era, and it also features a verse of West’s from Pharrell’s “Number 1”. On that note, let’s get back to the aforementioned issue of rehashed verses. You hear plenty of it on “Saturday Night Fever”, an otherwise fun-loving, altogether solid joint featuring Kanye West and Wyclef Jean. Here’s the kicker: Their verses are from “American Boy” and “Tryin’ to Stay Alive”, respectively. Some listeners are bound to be turned off or feel cheated by these reused bars; however, Fly Gypsy incorporates them seamlessly for a completely new listening experience.

As a whole, The Vodka & Rum Mixtape is certainly worth your time. It’s a fun and different take on the mixtape that has more or less become played out with the Internet playing a bigger role in music. At least Fly Gypsy took it to a different level by incorporating bigger names—a cheap move to some, a brilliant move to others—and giving a fresh spin on previously heard verses. This mixtape might not be perfect, but it’s still good enough to warrant a download.


Weekly newspaper reporter by day, music reviewer by night (OK, and by day, too). When he's not writing for PopMatters, Andrew spends most of his time at online magazine Prefix and hip-hop site Potholes In My Blog.

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16 Dec 2009
This transcontinental duo makes upbeat, positive hip-hop that should be embraced by even the most skeptical listeners.

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