PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Curren$y: New Jet City

Curren$y released a free album on Super Bowl Sunday, and it may be the best thing he's done in... well, a few months at least.


New Jet City

Label: Warner Bros.
US Release Date: 2013-01-03
UK Release Date: 2013-01-03

Curren$y is in a very odd place in hip-hop, one that I'm not sure has ever existed before. Since 2008 the Young Money castaway has been entrepreneurial in ways few other rappers can claim. What began as artistic catharsis after a duo of limited roles as Lil' Wayne's undersold wingman and No Limit solider, his string of eight mixtapes in eight months revealed Curren$y to be equally inspired by wildly different music than the gangster rap tunes (most of the world would remember him for "Where da Cash At?", his semi-monolithic debut single from Dedication 2, if they were trying to remember him) he'd been a part of before. His already moderate studio machismo gradually faded into a much camer sense of aggression. While he'd still get one over on you by stealing your girl from the party, Curren$y became a lot more interested in telling us how much his view of life feels like getting over in general.

If Curren$y's been on your radar since the Pilot Talk projects cast the brightest light on his career to date, you may have become aware by now that Curren$y's not necessarily limited in his content but he's definitely finely focused thematically. These songs are about the same failed relationships, casual relationships, vehicular supremacy, snack food, rap quotes and drug references Curren$y's been telling us about for years and years. The strange thing is, as the many fans and writers who've been keeping up with the guy for five-plus years let alone a decade can attest, it's quite notable how Curren$y's managed to make it work so well for him - as a small business and as an artistic endeavor - considering he's barely slowed down since feuding with Terry Kennedy, linking up with Dame Dash and pioneering a sound that dominates the mixtape scene today. Allowing for some duplicates across releases and random floaters missing from basic tracklists, the man's released about twelve hours of music across eighteen albums and EPs in just three years.

Take "Bitch Get Up", a sneaky track-of-the-summer contender that probably came to early to put up a real fight. Produced by June James, a hired gun from Houston whose profile's undoubtedly improved after this, and featuring a refreshingly jumpy-yet-melodic Juvenile, "Bitch Get Up" is a strange number that shifts from Curren$y's Goldie pimpin' to a pre-crunk kind of Memphis bounce (lifted from Juicy J on "Errday") to Juvenile's straight up MTV Spring Break track closer. The song wasn't too impressive my first few days with the album, but very quickly I've just been getting more and more excited for the chorus and Juvenile to take over. "Purple Haze" is another song with a surprising and strange sing-songy guest verse, as Trinidad Jame$ appears out of nowhere to say a whole lot of nothing and sound like the kingdom's best jester as he does it.

Thelonious Martin gets the most billings on the production end, a subject important with any Curren$y album both because of the aforementioned microscopic focus on a few pat subjects and because his choice in production has remained pretty damn on top of things. His past few releases have felt a little more major label than longtime fans may have been accustomed to and New Jet City is no different, he just has a knack for finding top of the crop examples of what's hot. And when he goes out of bounds, like Martin's "Living for the City" and "Moe Chettah", the results are typically revelatory - here, you're curious how game Freddie Gibbs and Madlib would be to add Curren$y as a Ghostface-like foil. "Clear" is a look at Curren$y in a more rugged, overcast atmosphere that suits his guest Jadakiss better, but Statik Selektah's region-neutral boom bap is just right for Curren$y to get by on verse IQ.

Having listened to and heard so much Curren$y music in just half a decade, it's easy to be tempted into being fatigued by his act. So it's really with a lot of great enthusiasm that I say this is probably the album that fans and newcomers who were disappointed by The Stoned Immaculate were expecting. It's a little more defiantly, sneakily accessible than his music's been lately, feeling just the right amount of left of center to sound unique without sounding strange. Curren$y tackles, essentially, a revue of every sound that's killing it right now in rap music and weaves his patented moves through them all like Kentucky John Wall. It's a tough one to nail down with a number due to how fresh his subject matter may hit people's ears depending on familiarity, but anyone should feel pretty delighted to get this one, I'd say.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.