In the scheme of intellectual, underground hip hop, it doesn’t get much better than Blue Scholars’ Butter&Gun$. Blue Scholars have found a way to hold true to their indie, conscious roots while adopting some of the blockbuster tropes of mainstream rap—most notably the massive amounts of auto-tuned production.
The EP’s opener “Loyalty” sounds like a Kanye West wet dream, latent with soulful choirs, vocorder interjections, and casual, delayed boom-bap percussion. And while the production on the rest of the tracks follow suit, the flows only get better. “Butter&Gun$ (Loyalty II)” sounds like a game of internal-rhyme bingo as MC Geologic spits, “They put us in competition to cause affliction with opposition / The friction is part of their fiction, they’re looking for pots to piss in / Watch the bosses up in the loft laughing, upping the cost of living / To cop a billion while the cops are killing ‘em off, women and children.”
But Butter&Gun$ suffers the same way most underground hip hop discs do: The sonics are undeniably impressive but very often, the lyrics don’t make much sense. Blue Scholars avoid most of these moments but still have their troubles. And though Butter&Gun$ is a great EP, it’s occasional stagnancy is somewhat disconcerting for the duo’s upcoming full-lengths. Though this is just about as good a sign as you can get.